There are last-minute fightbacks, and then there are the ones that catch you completely off-guard.

What looked to be a comfortable triumph for Geelong - who led by 22 points midway through the last quarter - was unexpectedly turned on its head by a fast-finishing St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium, who came within a point of pulling off the unthinkable after ramming home three of the game's last four goals in a frantic final term.

Led by Tim Membrey (three goals) and Max King (two) and leaders Jack Steele and Rowan Marshall, the Saints galvanised in the twilight stages after an inconsistent first half to almost pinch the four points, before Patrick Dangerfield steadied the ship late to pull his side ahead with a minute to play and secure the 10.16 (76) to 9.14 (68) result.

Geelong were led superbly by the Cats skipper (25 disposals, eight clearances) prior to his match-winning moment, with young and upcoming midfielder Max Holmes (24) and Ollie Dempsey (three goals) delivering in their respective domains to give their side an early advantage which appeared unassailable until the closing passages. 

In an evening punctuated with inaccuracy in front of goal, the Saints ended up being just one straight kick away from souring the Cats' prime-time party and marking their first win at the venue since 1999. The home side had reason to celebrate with the unveiling of the newly built Joel Selwood Stand, with Dangerfield's clutch moment keeping his side's plans intact.

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Tom Hawkins attempted to get the home crowd cracking in the opening minutes and christen the newly opened Joel Selwood Stand with an ambitious mid-air snap, however it was the returning Tim Membrey - up the other end of the ground - whose long bomb into a vacant forward-50 drew first blood.

Although Membrey may have got the Saints rolling, his opposition counterpart in Jeremy Cameron got the Cats’ party truly rocking. 

Cameron's sensational, in-swinging shot at the sticks on the run (which is sure to be one of the contenders for Goal of the Year) topped the pre-game fireworks and theatrics, kicking off a four-goal run either side of quarter-time which threatened to spill out of control. 

Membrey, King and Mattaes Phillipou abated the Cats’ scoreboard momentum midway through the second to pare back the deficit, but the Cats’ sway on the contest was evident; their domination of forward entries (+17 at half-time) very nearly ballooning the margin out much further if not for some errant kicking.


Ross Lyon shifted the magnets at half-time to stem the bleeding: Cooper Sharman moved to defence to quell the dangerous Dempsey (who had kicked three goals by half-time), Marcus Windhager shifted on-ball into a run-with role on Holmes and debutant Lance Collard injected into the game in place of Seb Ross.

The early signs showed promise. GMHBA Stadium's comparatively small but vocal Saints crowd erupted when first-gamer Darcy Wilson put through his first goal to cut the margin back to single figures, and with the Cats curbed to just six points for the term, the Saints had the door ajar.

It seemed an unlikely scenario given the first-half dominance of their opposition and track record at Kardinia Park, however fast turned into a reality as Membrey’s second put the Saints to within a goal in the opening minutes of the final stanza.

But the Cats’ repeated presses forward - coupled with several close calls - finally overcame the besieged defence; the sealer from Dangerfield carrying on the 25-year, 12-game undefeated streak at home against St Kilda.

GEELONG. 2.3  6.7  6.13  10.16 (76)
1.5  4.6  5.9  9.14 (68)

Dempsey 3, Cameron 2, Close, Tuohy, Henry, Hawkins, Dangerfield
St Kilda: Membrey 3, King 2, Wilson 2, Phillipou, Sharman

Dangerfield, Dempsey, Holmes, Cameron, Kolodjashnij
St Kilda:
Marshall, Membrey, Membrey, Bonner, Battle, Wanganeen-Milera

St Kilda:
Stocker (TBC)

Stengle (replaced by Manangh in the third quarter)
St Kilda:
Ross (replaced by Collard in the third quarter)

39352 at GMHBA Stadium