A MISERLY St Kilda has produced its second victory of the season, outlasting Collingwood by 14 points in a gritty arm wrestle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
After booting 14.23 against the Brisbane Lions last week, the Saints were again inaccurate in front of goal but eventually did enough to separate themselves from a more wasteful Pies outfit.
The Saints set up their victory with four of the five goals scored in the third term, doing enough to hold off the Magpies in a scrappy 9.15 (69) to 7.13 (55) win.
St Kilda's stifling forward line pressure forced the Magpies' defenders to cough the ball up time and again, as they out-tackled their opponents 85-55, but unfortunately the Saints could not take full advantage on the scoreboard.
In a game where both sides' defences reigned supreme, inspirational Saints skipper Jarryn Geary was outstanding for the victors.
Geary only had 17 disposals, but his ability to win crucial one-on-one contests and trademark bravery to take a hit for the betterment of his team was one of the key elements in the Saints' win.
Young Saints midfielder Seb Ross exerted his influence on the contest with 12 disposals in the third term to finish with 36 for the game, while Dylan Roberton accumulated plenty of touches in a setup role across half-back (32 disposals).
St Kilda key forwards Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce both finished with two goals apiece, but their influence could have been greater if the Saints' midfielders were more effective going inside forward 50.
"I think we'd all acknowledge it wasn't an amazing game of footy from a technical or skill perspective – it was a real scrap – (but) it's pleasing a couple of weeks in a row to win when you're not at your best," Richardson said.
"Our tackle pressure was really positive and I think everyone knows how strong they were in that space last week. So to win the tackle count by 30 is a real credit to the boys."
If St Kilda made scoring look like hard work, it paled in comparison to Collingwood's struggles forward of centre.
Lauded for their precise ball movement in a massive away win against Sydney at the SCG last week, that clean, flowing possession deserted the Pies on Easter Sunday.
The Magpies kicked just seven goals for the match as their forward line misfired again, highlighted by the ineffectiveness of young forward Darcy Moore, who was again well held.
The Pies' scoring struggles are a major headache for coach Nathan Buckley, although the return of Jamie Elliott for his first game since round 23, 2015 was a positive on a day dominated by negatives for the team in black and white.
Collingwood gave up 66 inside 50s to St Kilda and lowered its output from previous weeks with just 50 on Sunday.
"When you work hard to move the ball forward and you think you're doing quite a bit right and you don't get bang for buck it sets you back a little bit," Buckley said.
"Clearly we need to look at our execution going forward, the connection between our backs, our midfielders and our forwards and the balance of our offence in our game.
"We weren't going to win with that score."
Taylor Adams (39 disposals) typically gave his all for the Magpies, while Steele Sidebottom was also prolific through the midfield.
Versatile defender Jeremy Howe stood up under a barrage of pressure, taking a number of relieving marks (10) and finishing with 21 disposals to continue his excellent season.
Billed as a match-up between two of the AFL's brightest upcoming ruckmen, Brodie Grundy took the points against Tom Hickey, although the Saints' ruckman fought back strongly in the second half.
Eventually the Saints' constant pressure wore the Magpies down, and it was their consistent effort in the third term that sewed up the victory.
The loss leaves the Pies with just one win from their first four games.
Collingwood: Will Hoskin-Elliott hurt his left wrist in the opening term after contact from Jake Carlisle. The midfielder got the all clear from doctors to continue and he came back on to kick two goals. Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury spent large periods of the third quarter on the bench, but coach Nathan Buckley denied there was an injury issue. Tom Phillips (illness) should be available to face Essendon.
St Kilda: Key midfielder David Armitage was helped from the field in the final term after pulling up sore from a contest on the wing. Saints coach Alan Richardson said Armitage would be monitored closely during the week: "He got quite sore late and needed to get assisted off right at the end there, so we'll have to see how Dave pulls up," Richardson said.
The Saints will again grace Etihad Stadium for another Sunday clash against Geelong, a team they have not lost to since 2014 after a tie and a three-point win in their last two contests. Collingwood will be looking to restart its spluttering season against Essendon in what shapes as a huge Anzac Day clash.
Jamie Elliott played his first senior game since 2015. Picture: AFL Photos
COLLINGWOOD 2.6 3.7 5.8 7.13 (55)
ST KILDA 1.3 4.7 8.12 9.15 (69)
Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 2, Fasolo, Crisp, White, Blair, Schade
St Kilda: Bruce 2, Membrey 2, Montagna, Gresham, Riewoldt, Acres, Billings
Collingwood: Howe, Grundy, Sidebottom, Adams, Reid, Treloar
St Kilda: Geary, Ross, Billings, Roberton, Newnes, Steele
Collingwood: Tom Phillips (illness) replaced in selected side by Jarryd Blair, Will Hoskin-Elliott (left wrist)
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: Nicholls, Hay, McInerney
Official crowd: 36,650 at Etihad Stadium