Geelong's premiership defence is over after a 33-point loss to St Kilda at Marvel Stadium ensured the Cats will miss the eight.

But the triumphant Saints are now all but guaranteed to return to finals action for the first time since 2020 in the first season under new-old coach Ross Lyon, having led from siren to siren in the 12.16 (88) to 8.7 (55) victory.



Sydney's one-point win over Adelaide in the other Saturday night match means Geelong won't see September for just the second time in 17 seasons.

St Kilda was switched on and focused from the opening bounce, Mitch Owens kicking the first goal just 36 seconds into the game, and the Saints' full-ground defence took full effect, strangling the Cats.


It took half-back Zach Guthrie to glide through and kick a stagnant Geelong's first goal at the 14-minute mark, after a fired-up St Kilda piled on three goals in quick succession.

The first quarter went from bad to worse for the Cats – who were already running with a makeshift ruck division of key back Sam De Koning and fourth-gamer Shannon Neale – when full-back Esava Ratugolea was subbed out with a hamstring injury.

St Kilda continued to apply the pressure in the second term, but didn't fully take advantage of its opportunities in attack and Rowan Marshall's dominance in the ruck, kicking 2.5 for the term while the Cats added 2.1.


But the Saints were always one step ahead of the Cats, with more speed at ground level and too many options up forward for the visitors to handle, meaning they scored easily from stoppages.

Geelong was content to let Jack Sinclair push off half-back unimpeded, particularly in the first half, the Saints' 2022 best and fairest running rampant to record 38 disposals and 10 marks.

Max King relished coming up against the under-strength Cats defence, booting three goals in the first half, while Jack Higgins was a constant threat in attack in his 100th game, bobbing up here and there to cause some chaos.

Patrick Dangerfield (13 disposals) was uncharacteristically quiet, while Jeremy Cameron finished with 23 touches but had to roam far from home to find the footy and was scoreless.

Mitch Duncan may be looked at by the MRO after a dump tackle on Jack Higgins early in the first quarter, while Guthrie collected Hunter Clark with a late bump in the third term.

It was a busy night for both medical teams, with Max Holmes (ankle), Cooper Sharman (ankle), Hunter Clark (concussion test) and Brad Close (TBC) all receiving treatment on various ailments, with all but Close playing out the game.

The Saints will be sweating on a hamstring injury to Seb Ross, who sat out from quarter-time.

Cats talls left short
With Mark Blicavs, Rhys Stanley, Jon Ceglar, Jack Henry and Gary Rohan already sidelined, the last type of player Geelong could afford to lose in-game was a tall. Esava Ratugolea's early hamstring injury meant Tom Stewart couldn't afford to roam too far from his opponent. Shannon Neale was forced to take a much larger portion of the ruck battles, with Tom De Koning's hands full with Max King.

Weight of numbers wins out for St Kilda
The Saints led the inside-50 count 30-15 at the main break, but were only ahead by 16 on the scoreboard, having kicked five behinds in the second quarter. The inaccuracy looked like it was a chance of costing St Kilda, with 3.6 recorded in the third term, but the full-ground dominance got the Saints home in the end.

Winners and losers
Geelong's Grand Final win last year was that dominant, it's hard to believe that 12 months on the Cats will miss just their second finals series under Chris Scott, who took the reins back in 2011. Injuries, the inability to cover Joel Selwood's retirement and simply being one step off the pace have all contributed to a frustrating season for Geelong. Conversely, St Kilda should be making just its third finals series since 2011, despite having started the season with a horror injury list. Only a calamitous loss to Brisbane next week could see the Saints slip out of the eight on percentage.

ST KILDA      4.3     6.8     9.14     12.16     (88)
GEELONG     2.3     4.4     6.5     8.7     (55)

St Kilda: King 3, Sharman 2, Higgins 2, Butler 2, Owens, Phillipou, Marshall
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Z.Guthrie, Stengle, Duncan, Holmes, Tuohy, Atkins

St Kilda: Sinclair, Marshall, Crouch, King, Steele, Windhager
Geelong: Stewart, Atkins, Z.Guthrie, Duncan

St Kilda: Ross (hamstring)
Geelong: Ratugolea (hamstring), Close (TBC)

St Kilda: Hunter Clark (replaced Clark at quarter-time)
Geelong: Brandan Parfitt (replaced Ratugolea in the first quarter)

Crowd: 40,103 at Marvel Stadium