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Saints exceeding expectations: Richo

Jennifer Phelan  July 26, 2015 9:54 PM

Post-match: Alan Richardson (R17) Alan Richardson's press conference after the round 17 match against Melbourne. (26 July, 2015)
AFL 2015 Rd 17 - Melbourne v St Kilda

Paddy McCartin and Nick Riewoldt booted four goals between them.

We had some performances last year that were incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing for us.

ST KILDA’S win-loss record has already exceeded coach Alan Richardson’s pre-season expectations.

Sunday’s win over Melbourne moved the Saints to 6-10 for the season, already two wins better than last year’s final mark, but Richardson maintained 2015 was about how his team played and not how the results fell.   

After the Saints beat the Demons – a team considered on a similar keel in terms of rebuilding status – Richardson was asked if he felt they had moved ahead of the curve after claiming their sixth win for the year.

"Probably now," Richardson said.

"I'll be honest, if I sound a bit vague on the answer, it's because we didn't spend a lot of time talking about it, it was more about the way we want to play.

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"We had some performances last year that were incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing for us and we wanted to do something about that.

"Our losses in many ways have been as encouraging, and this is relative to last year compared to some of our more positive results.

"We could have won a couple more games, even last week we were pretty strong late, poor in the middle part … [but] we think it's heading in the right direction, and I'm pleased with where we sit.

"But there's so much more work we've got to do and the attitude of the players is they're looking to eat it up so that's a real positive."

The combination of new players such as Jack Lonie, Jack Sinclair, Paddy McCartin and Hugh Goddard with the return of Sam Gilbert and Sam Fisher after injury-hit years had helped the Saints restore balance to their team.

But it's been the intent they've showed every week that has Richardson optimistic.

"We've been able to get a good balance of experience, and they're experienced players who can seriously play, and young guys with real talent and energy and thirst to get after the opposition and tackle and pressure," he said.

"That's been the most positive thing; the way we've played, how aggressive we've been in terms of getting after the opposition."

MATCH REPORT: High-pressure Saints defeat Melbourne

Post-match: Luke Dunstan (R17)

Biggest quads in the AFL? Luke Dunstan is a contender. We spoke to him (about the game, not the quads) in the rooms post-match.

Posted by St Kilda Football Club on Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Saints' defenders, particularly Sean Dempster, stood out for Richardson as influential in their second win over the Demons this season.

No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin took nine marks in his most encouraging performance while Gilbert played his best game since returning in round 11.

But it was captain Nick Riewoldt, who played under serious physical duress with both calves affected by soreness, that led the team.

"He's amazing, he's got a very strong mind, he's a very determined person," Richardson said.

"He's had a long career where he's had to fight through some adversity with his body so he knows he can get through.

"He was very strong for us, he would have been one of our better players again even though he perhaps wasn't at 100 per cent."

Richardson admitted Riewoldt was in some doubt to travel to face Port Adelaide next Sunday after receiving a cork in his "good" left calf.

The 32-year-old has been playing with his right calf strapped after straining it two weeks ago, and has also had to contend with a nasty laceration to the muscle he sustained last week against Richmond.