The finals-bound Dockers took the perhaps unprecedented step of making 12 changes for the clash with the lowly Saints. Of these, seven players were rested. In doing so, Freo opened itself up to accusations that it was flirting with its form the week before the finals, and with the Brisbane Lions challenging Geelong, the Dockers could also have been left ruing a lost opportunity to play a home final. AFL chief Andrew Demetriou said on game eve he understood why the Dockers had rested so many players, but added the league would still "look at" such practices. Freo went from resembling a premiership chance one week to a WAFL team the next. It wasn't a good look.
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2. This is Saints footy
The Dockers were severely undermanned, but the Saints' dominance, particularly early, took everyone by surprise. It was the first time in nine years that Freo have been held scoreless by quarter-time. Remarkably, the visitors didn’t score until 13 minutes into the second term, and didn’t kick a goal until eight minutes after that. In the meantime, St Kilda powered to a 51-point lead. The Saints led disposals and uncontested possessions by more than 100 before half-time. The Dockers fought back with five of the next six goals before the Saints regained their ascendancy. It broke a nine-game winning streak at Etihad Stadium for former St Kilda coach Ross Lyon.
3. The Saints' super duo
St Kilda midfielders Jack Steven and Leigh Montagna broke a record for the most disposals between two teammates in the same match. They tallied a phenomenal 94 touches – comprising 47 apiece – to surpass the previous record of 86 set by Carlton pair Scott Camporeale (45) and Craig Bradley (41). In a further promising sign for the Saints' midfield, 21-year-old Tom Curren also amassed a career-best 26 possessions, 12 of which came in the scene-setting first term.
4. Old Saints march out in style
St Kilda's retiring trio of Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke and Jason Blake couldn’t have wished for a much better send-off (the contest also marked the 200-game milestones of Koschitzke and former Swan Adam Schneider). The St Kilda cheersquad duly paid tribute to the quartet on the banner, and the Saints' faithful applauded every possession of the three veterans. The cheer Milne received when he finally kicked his first goal was only surpassed by the raucous acknowledgements that accompanied substitute Koschitzke's entry to the fray, and for a shot initially adjudged a goal but ultimately deemed a behind by the goal review system.
5. Clancee's calf quandary
Clancee Pearce's finals campaign is in serious doubt after suffering another calf injury. In his first game back after hurting the same muscle at the same venue against Carlton in round 19, the hard-edged Docker was substituted out of the match just three minutes into the match. If sidelined as expected, the 22-year-old will be a huge loss. His physical approach and penetration make him an ideal weapon in the Dockers' game plan.