THE SOUTH Australian Government might regret letting St Kilda into the state.
The Saints conquered Adelaide Oval for the second time in six days on Saturday night – after failing to do so 10 times before that – as they upended top side Port Adelaide by 29 points in a stunning upset.
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They roared into third spot in the process, kicking the only five goals of the last quarter to clinch an 12.1 (73) to 6.8 (44) victory that inflicted just the Power's second defeat of the year.
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St Kilda's five-pack of recruits again delivered, with Zak Jones a menace in the clinches, Dan Butler chipping in with two more goals, Bradley Hill strong in the opening half and ex-Port duo Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder performing well.
Jones won 20 disposals and a game-high eight clearances, while Howard held the competition's in-form key forward Charlie Dixon to one goal and eight disposals.
Callum Wilkie and Jake Carlisle were also vitally important down back in quelling the Power attack, along with rising star Hunter Clark, whose 24 possessions were more than any other player.
The match hung in the balance until a horrid Justin Westhoff defensive-50 turnover nine minutes into the final term gifted Butler his second goal.
The dam walls opened from there, with Ryder, Tim Membrey – we'll come back to this one – and Max King ramming home the advantage for Brett Ratten's side.
Membrey's flying karate kick effort in the goalsquare was arguably the best of the season, getting the last touch after a Tom Jonas spoil before a score review confirmed maximum points.
Port Adelaide will rue its wasteful kicking in front of goal, which contrasted greatly with the Saints' incredibly accuracy – and not for the first time in 2020.
St Kilda absorbed the Power's swarming pressure immediately after half-time and made its inside-50 entries count to take a one-point lead into the final break.
Darcy Byrne-Jones (21 disposals, eight intercept possessions) was terrific for Port but didn't have enough allies, with Jack Steele (21) adding Travis Boak's scalp to his ever-growing list.
Nowhere to hide for Power veteran
Justin Westhoff wasn't supposed to play against St Kilda but was a late inclusion after Trent McKenzie hurt his back in the warm-up. Westhoff might have wished he hadn't after a horror – and hugely crucial – moment in the final term. The 33-year-old expertly outmarked Max King in the Saints' attacking 50 but somehow shanked a short pass straight to ex-Tiger Dan Butler, who put his new side 11 points clear. Paddy Ryder and Tim Membrey followed that game-breaking major with goals of their own to complete a famous St Kilda victory. As for Westhoff, he can probably expect some bad news at the selection table next week.
Back in familiar surrounds
Ex-Port Adelaide footballers Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder returned to Adelaide Oval as Saints on Saturday night after respective trades at the end of last year. Both fell out of favour at the Power as last season went on but are making a good go of it at St Kilda. Port sent Howard forward last year but he's played down back all season for Brett Ratten's team. He manned the in-form Charlie Dixon and kept him goalless in the first half but Dixon opened the scoring in the third quarter, while Howard had some shaky kicking turnovers. Even still, Howard took the honours. Ryder was the dominant tap ruckman and kicked the sealing goal in the final term to ensure he enjoyed his night.
The other young gun
Port Adelaide's created a wonderful blend of influential veterans and quality youth that have propelled it into top spot this year. We know all about Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma and Todd Marshall but the Power appear to have nailed another early draft pick. Mitch Georgiades was the bolter of last year's draft, joining Port with the No.18 selection after a serious quad injury sidelined him for all of the 2019 season. He debuted in round one but Saturday night's game was just his second. Georgiades is a fearless flyer and twice put his hands to work in a second quarter cameo. He elevated to haul in a nice grab over Nick Coffield before setting up a Brad Ebert shot, then soon after got on the end of an Ollie Wines pass to kick a goal. Georgiades' numbers weren't prolific but the signs were promising.
PORT ADELAIDE 2.1 4.4 6.6 6.8 (44)
ST KILDA 1.1 5.1 7.1 12.1 (73)
Port Adelaide: Powell-Pepper, Gray, Georgiades, Marshall, Dixon, Duursma
St Kilda: Marshall 2, Butler 2, Membrey 2, Ryder 2, Hind, Kent, Gresham, King
Port Adelaide: Byrne-Jones, Ebert, Wines, Houston, Ladhams
St Kilda: Jones, Marshall, Steele, Clark, Billings, Gresham, Ryder
Port Adelaide: McKenzie (back spasms) replaced in selected side by Westhoff, Marshall (thumb)
St Kilda: Ross (left calf)