Senior coach Nick Dal Santo says a lack of execution on his side’s behalf against Walyalup has been a “small step back” compared to the past month of football, but is hopeful the Saints can correct course with two games remaining of the home-and-away season.
The Saints’ four-game winning streak came to a head on Sunday afternoon against an assertive Walyalup, who never looked like fumbling the bag following a four-goal start which saw them run out comfortable 24-point winners.
Walyalup’s ascendancy came from its dominant midfield efforts, which yielded one-sided inside-50s (44-18) and disposals (256-177) counts and was something Dal Santo said his side “couldn’t get right” in countering for large parts of the game.
“I think it was a combination of things, it wasn’t just the experience,” Dal Santo said on his side’s loss post-game.
“I thought Fremantle were really impressive from the word go. They challenged us and we were well aware of their style of play, we just didn’t execute our side of the play.
“We came over here with a really clear plan about how we wanted to go about our football. It’s something we’ve been building throughout the course of this year and (has) probably been more highlighted off the back of the last month where we’ve got some pleasing results, but we didn’t execute in any of those areas.”
Dal Santo’s Saints are close to the rear of a log-jam of teams vying for a top-eight berth, currently perched in 12th position to sit level on points with the eighth-placed Geelong.
The equation is simple for the Saints: win the next two against Brisbane and Carlton and, with a handful of results still needing to swing in their favour, a maiden finals berth is alive.
A win today would have seen St Kilda leapfrog into outright seventh with two games left to play, but Dal Santo remains adamant his side must stay focussed on the week-to-week outcomes and not look too far down the road as to what could eventuate.
“We’ve been really clear internally about what gives us the possibility of being successful from week to week,” Dal Santo said.
“We haven’t spoken about the win-loss ratio, and I know we’re in finals contention, and those questions have been asked.
“We’ve made some really big steps forward. There’s no doubt we’ve taken a small step back, we will learn from it and we’re going to analyse it really closely to understand why things happen, or why they don’t happen.
“I don’t think our performance today has anything to do with our previous month. We just didn’t perform today, we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain.”
St Kilda will look to stay in touch with the top-eight this coming Saturday against Brisbane at RSEA Park, who currently sit in fourth after accounting for the previously undefeated Adelaide earlier this weekend.
“It’s an exciting opportunity against one of the best teams in the competition, not just this year, but for many years,” Dal Santo said.
“We’ll do our work. We’re going to analyse what they’ve done in the past and we’ll have a plan. We need to execute that.”