A BARNSTORMING final quarter has breathed life into St Kilda's season, edging out Gold Coast by nine points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The Saints trailed by 15 points at the final change but kicked the only four goals in an emphatic fourth quarter to win 8.15 (63) to 7.12 (54).
SUNS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats
It was their second straight victory and levelled their season ledger at 4-4.
Despite the perfect conditions at Carrara both teams made a meal of their ball use for most of the day, before the Saints put things together late.
Jack Billings and Jack Higgins kicked goals early in the final term to bring their team back into the match, but fittingly it was Paddy Ryder who put them in front midway through the quarter.
Ryder, in just his second match of the season, became more influential in the ruck as the day wore on, and put the first nail in when he roved his own marking contest and snapped from 20m.
Brad Crouch made things almost impossible for the Suns when he drilled a goal from 50m minutes later.
Billings (25 and two goals) and Jack Steele (26 and two goals) were superb for most of the day, while Ryder, Zak Jones and Hunter Clark also contributed strongly.
Ryder led a dominant midfield performance in the last quarter as Brett Ratten's team dismantled the Suns at stoppages.
It was a missed opportunity for Gold Coast, who looked like winners at three-quarter time.
They kicked three goals in six minutes late in the third quarter to have a nice cushion, but seemed to run out of legs in the final term.
Touk Miller continued his fine season, gathering a match-high 33 disposals, while skipper Dave Swallow (28 and 13 tackles) was his relentless self.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Clark
With his team trailing by 15 at the final change – and its ball use poor for most of the game – young midfielder Hunter Clark stepped up when it mattered most. Clark had seven disposals in the crucial fourth quarter, but it was the quality that set him apart. He finished with 22 touches and 86 per cent efficiency, and hauled in nine marks for the Saints. His six score involvements were telling, particularly a nice hand in the build-up to Crouch's sealer.
After an uninspiring first half, the two teams brought the crowd to life on the stroke of the siren with a good old-fashioned melee. Paddy Ryder seemed to be involved in an incident that left Sam Collins on the ground, bringing in the Suns to remonstrate. Sean Lemmens dropped a shoulder on an incoming Dan Butler, sending the Saint flying. All 44 players were involved as three or four separate spot-fires broke out, not surprisingly with Zak Jones and Nick Holman as central figures. The main winners from this could be the AFL, set to dish out plenty of fines.
Who's the real King?
Marking the Ben King v Max King 'battle' – at opposite ends of the ground – was difficult. The twins had relatively little influence on the match, although Ben kicked three goals for the Suns, two of those from the goalsquare with plenty of help from his teammates. Opponent Dougal Howard was terrific as the match wore on. Max kicked just one goal, but became increasingly involved, and more importantly the Saint took the win. It's now 2-0 to Max in head-to-head battles.
GOLD COAST 1.4 3.7 7.9 7.12 (54)
ST KILDA 0.3 3.7 4.12 8.15 (63)
Gold Coast: King 3, Corbett, Holman, Rankine, Weller
St Kilda: Billings 2, Steele 2, Crouch, Higgins, King, Ryder
Gold Coast: Miller, Swallow, Powell, Greenwood, Collins, Markov
St Kilda: Steele, Billings, Jones, Clark, Ryder, Wilkie, Marshall
Gold Coast: Holman (concussion)
St Kilda: Nil
Gold Coast: Nil
St Kilda: Seb Ross replaced in selected side by Mason Wood
Gold Coast: Alex Sexton (unused)
St Kilda: Jack Lonie (unused)
Crowd: 9271 at Metricon Stadium