St Kilda’s forward line underwent many challenges throughout the 2021 season, but a timely surge in momentum post-bye had the offensive half close to firing on all cylinders.

But what exactly was behind the change? With help from Senior Analyst Darren O'Shaughnessy, we've dived into the numbers which revitalised the Saints' forward line in the back half of Season 2021.

Post-bye breakout

It was a remarkable turnaround from St Kilda following the bye rounds, who suddenly shot up the ladder with some scintillating performances at the backend of the year.

St Kilda Averages Rounds 1-13 Rounds 14-23
Points Scored 71 (15th) 81 (7th)
G.B Accuracy 51% [10G 10B] (17th) 64% [12G 7B] (1st)
Ladder Percentage 78.3% (17th) 116.5% (7th)
Goals per Inside 50 19% (17th) 24% (3rd)
Time in Forward Half Minus-1 min (8th) Plus-5 mins (4th)


The glaring issue of their accuracy in front of goal saw the Saints sitting at 17th midway through the year, but they flipped the script as they surged to first in the AFL from Rounds 14 through to 23

They would also ensure that the footy spent more time inside 50 (moving from eighth to fourth), while reducing the number of points and inside 50s they were conceding throughout the year.

High pressure

Dan Butler's pressure has been elite in the forward line. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

St Kilda’s pressure inside 50 exploded after the bye, with their pressure difference going from ninth in the AFL after 13 rounds to fourth.

The time the footy spent in the forward half went shot up significantly, and the Saints were able to transition their ball from defensive 50 into the forward line was integral to their success, allowing for small forwards Jack Higgins, Ben Long and Dan Butler to capitalise.

It was Butler himself who enhanced his reputation as damaging defensive-minded forward, averaging 47 pressure points per game.

It is a number that inside midfielders would be proud of, and while Butler doesn’t always get the plaudits outside of the club, his ability to defend thoroughly inside 50 while also scoring 18 goals and 10 goal assists have seen him internally recognised as a crucial cog in the St Kilda forward structure.

Young Saints on the rise

St Kilda’s youth have been a threatening presence in the side’s forward line, with the emergence of two exciting talents showcasing the potential for 2022.

Max King came into his own this season, leading the Saints’ goal kicking tally with 38 in total. 22 of these goals came after the bye, including 13.4 from outside 30 metres and 12.4 from outside the corridor. His nine goals from contested marks were the most in the AFL after the bye.

King’s run-and-jump at the footy and ability to crash packs was complimented well by small forward Jack Higgins (27 goals) and mid-season recruit Cooper Sharman, who booted 10 goals from four on-field games.

The 21-year-old forward was also supported by vice-captain Tim Membrey who booted 34 goals for the year, as he, King and Higgins all combined for 99 majors in total.