ST KILDA has produced its best footy of the season to demolish Brisbane by 32 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night and keep its unlikely finals hopes alive.
The Saints were magnificent from the opening bounce, hustling and bustling the Lions into errors, and executing an exciting run-and-gun gameplan to win 14.11 (95) to 8.15 (63).
LIONS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats
It was a horror night for the relocated home team, losing not only the four premiership points in captain Dayne Zorko's 200th game, but rangy forward Eric Hipwood to a suspected ACL injury.
St Kilda's victory solidified wins over Richmond and Collingwood and remarkably has it outside the eight on percentage only halfway through round 17.
Like they did against the Tigers and Magpies, the Saints strangled Brisbane with high-octane pressure and suffocating defence. They then beat them for run on the outside.
Max King turned the tide with three second quarter goals in a showcase of his limitless talent, while Zak Jones (26 disposals) was magnificent on return, Luke Dunstan (29) continued his career revival and captain Jack Steele (31 and two goals) did what he always does.
Jimmy Webster kept Charlie Cameron to just five disposals, Dougal Howard had the better of Joe Daniher and Tom Highmore continued his impressive season in a vice-like backline.
After a see-sawing third quarter that saw the lead change four times, St Kilda ran the Lions ragged, kicking six successive goals either side of the final change to seal the deal.
Once Hipwood left the field late in the opening quarter, Brisbane looked bereft of ideas going forward, continually bombing the ball long to outnumbered situations.
Zorko was all heart in his milestone game, keeping his team afloat with three first half goals, but it was to no avail.
Zak back with a bang
After missing eight weeks with a ruptured quad, Zak Jones was magnificent on return. While it often takes players a half, a game or maybe even two games to find their rhythm after such an absence, Jones was immediately into the fray, offering power through stoppages and hard running into space. He finished with 26 disposals, including 10 clearances, and his lovely third quarter pass to Leo Connolly for his first career goal was an example of Jones' composure. He adds a totally different dynamic to St Kilda's midfield.
Hipwood's ACL nightmare
Metricon Stadium claimed another Brisbane victim, with Eric Hipwood the second Lion to suffer an ACL injury at the ground in 2021. The 23-year-old follows in the footsteps of former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner who suffered the same fate against Gold Coast during the pre-season. If Brisbane's worst fears are confirmed early in the week, it puts a question mark over its premiership credentials, with 204cm Hipwood causing match-up difficulties for opponents alongside Joe Daniher and Dan McStay.
A Quarter Fit for a King
With the Saints dominating general play, yet somehow trailing on the scoreboard, they needed some second quarter inspiration – enter Max King. The prodigiously talented tall forward split the game open with a devastating seven-minute burst in which he kicked three goals. One came from a simple mark on the lead, another after plucking the ball from Brandon Starcevich's grasp, while third came after outpointing dual All Australian Harris Andrews in a genuine one-on-one marking contest. King finished with 13 disposals and 10 marks, five of them contested.
BRISBANE 1.5 4.8 7.8 8.15 (63)
ST KILDA 1.3 6.6 9.9 14.11 (95)
Brisbane: Zorko 3, Ah Chee, Bailey, Birchall, Daniher, McStay
St Kilda: King 3, Byrnes 2, Membrey 2, Steele 2, Billings, Connolly, Crouch, Long, McKenzie
Brisbane: Zorko, Neale, Madden, Rich, McInerney, Adams
St Kilda: Jones, Dunstan, Steele, Webster, King, Membrey, Highmore
Brisbane: Hipwood (knee), Starcevich (neck)
St Kilda: Mason Wood (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Dean Kent;
Brisbane: Rhys Mathieson (replaced Hipwood)
St Kilda: Josh Battle (unused)
Crowd: 9075 at Metricon Stadium