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McKenzie leads late surge

Michael Ryan  June 17, 2018 1:05 PM

Daniel McKenzie's inspired last quarter willed his fellow Saints to an historic victory.
There were a lot of guys, probably typified by Daniel McKenzie, that made sure they did something about it.

Earlier this week, Alan Richardson said he was excited to see who “put their hand up” as the Saints sought their second win of the season.

Although the blowtorch has been squarely on the Saints’ middle tier, when St Kilda found itself 31 points down at the final break at Metricon Stadium, its saviour appeared in the most unlikely form: 25-gamer Daniel McKenzie.

Just 22 years old, McKenzie grabbed his teammates by the scruff of the neck and drove them forward relentlessly, leading the charge in the Saints’ desperate last-quarter effort.

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With just seven possessions to his name at the final break, McKenzie sprang to life in the last, gathering eight telling disposals and forcing the Suns onto the back foot.

There were under four minutes left when Jade Gresham extracted the footy from a congested pack to release McKenzie, who threw it onto his left boot and watched it float through for a goal, reducing the margin to just four points and setting the stage for Gresham to seal an unlikely win.

Senior coach Alan Richardson praised the young Saint, who’s been in and out of the senior side since his debut in 2015, and the vital role he played in the victory.

“I would say pride played a really big part in it,” Richardson said.

“There were a lot of guys, probably typified by Daniel McKenzie, that made sure they did something about it.

“McKenzie laid and stuck seven tackles for us up until half-time, but the way that he continued to push the ball forward, his goal and his contest work in the last quarter was just outstanding.”

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Inspired by the drive of the Oakleigh Chargers product, Alan Richardson’s side lifted as one and overran a shell-shocked Gold Coast outfit.

“The last quarter was full of character. It was a group of men that weren’t going to let it happen; they weren’t going to let our footy club lose the game of footy,” the senior coach said.

“That was probably the most pleasing thing out of the game; the character and the spirit in which they played.”

McKenzie’s running capacity is one of his most impressive traits as a footballer, and the midfield endurance beast is hoping to build on his outstanding late showing.


Daniel McKenzie celebrates with skipper Jarryn Geary

“It’s proven to myself that I can do it,” McKenzie told saints.com.au.

“I just need to get a bit of consistency and do that week in, week out, and just make it a common theme.”

The inspired come-from-behind goes down as the third-biggest comeback from three-quarter time in the club’s 145-year history.