ST KILDA’s fighting final term against West Coast has the potential to reinject belief into the battling Saints as they fight to turn their season around, according to coach Alan Richardson.
The Saints’ winless streak extended to 10 matches on Saturday night, working back from a 48-point deficit at the final change before losing to the ladder leaders by 13 points at Optus Stadium.
Richardson’s men kicked seven goals to one in the final term, smashing the Eagles in clearances (12-5) and inside 50s (16-5), and finally fixing their accuracy woes to kick their highest score since round one.
SAINTS FALL SHORT Full match coverage and stats
While frustrated his players had not played with the same aggression and strength for the first three quarters, Richardson said he was glad his players didn’t throw in the towel.
“There were two choices – we could dig a hole for ourselves and just hope the siren went and get on the plane with our tail between our legs, or we could fight,” the coach said.
“I’m really pleased we took the harder option and dug in and played for our footy cub.
“To play that way against the best team in the competition at the minute … I think that has the potential to give the group a little bit of belief.
“Particularly the way the game was played in the last quarter. Our guys were really physical … we’ve just got to keep going now.”
Mobile forward Tim Membrey was the star in a losing cause on Saturday night, overcoming his accuracy struggles to boot 6.0, including three in the final term to keep the Saints in the game until the dying minutes.
Richardson said he was pleased for his spearhead, who kicked 1.5 in the Saints’ last clash at Optus Stadium against Fremantle and has battled all season in front of goal.
MEMBREY FINDS FORM Five talking points
“He felt somewhat responsible last time, because he cares. He’s a terrific person, he loves his footy club, he loves his mates, and he felt like he’d let them down,” Richardson said.
“He should be rightly proud of what he did today, (but) he’d be disappointed we didn’t get the result.
“He’s been working his backside off on the training track and he’s backed in his routine and the work he’s done with (goalkicking coach) Ben Dixon.
“I knew it would turn. He’s a guy who keeps working at his craft and that’s what happens when you keep working hard.”
St Kilda’s backline took another hit on Saturday night, with captain Jarryn Geary set to undergo scans after suffering a left calf strain that could sidelined him for multiple weeks.
WATCH Alan Richardson's post-match media conference
Already without key defenders Nathan Brown (knee) and Jake Carlisle (suspension), as well as Sam Gilbert (thumb) and Dylan Roberton (heart), the Saints will continue to rely on a young defence.
“He’ll get scans so we can get the extent of it, but he’ll miss a bit of footy I reckon,” Richardson said of Geary.
“I think some of our younger defenders, a couple of them got lessons but a couple of them really stood up.
“I thought Bailey Rice in particular, for most of the game but certainly in that last quarter, was really positive and quite courageous at times. He defended well and attacked well.”
Richardson was also pleased with his midfielders, with Jack Steven winning a game-high eight clearances and 16 contested possessions, while Seb Ross (32 and six inside 50s) and Jack Sinclair (29 and a goal) were excellent.
First-year midfielder Hunter Clark also impressed, stepping into an inside role in the absence of Luke Dunstan and battling hard for his 17 possessions (11 contested) and five clearances.