A significant day for St Kilda has turned into a sensational one after knocking off the reigning Premiers by 26 points in the fifth Maddie’s Match on Saturday afternoon.
Just 15 points separated the two sides at the final change, before a crucial goal from Dean Kent following a tense few minutes confirmed the 15.3 (93) to 10.7 (67) result.
St Kilda remedied its work and pressure around the contest from last week's loss to Collingwood, and in line with Brett Ratten’s message throughout the week, emerged on top of the clearances (32-30) and drew level with the Tigers’ contested ball.
Richmond’s hunt never died down, but their trademark press and pressure were unable to crack the Saints’ steely determination.
It was an all-round team performance from the red, white and black, with Saints in every line playing critical roles in subduing the hungry Tigers.
While Richmond’s dangerous surges threatened St Kilda’s slender lead several times throughout the evening, former Tiger Dan Butler delivered when it mattered to keep his new side’s nose in front.
Butler (three goals) took home the Ian Stewart Medal after being judged best-on-ground, and was accompanied up forward by Tim Membrey (three goals, seven marks) and pairs to Jack Lonie, Kent and Rowan Marshall.
Marshall (25 hit-outs, 15 disposals, two goals) flew solo in the ruck after the late withdrawal of Paddy Ryder, and performed admirably against Toby Nankervis (26 hit-outs, 17 possessions), who was best on ground for the Tigers.
While Dion Prestia (25 disposals), Trent Cotchin (23) and Tom Lynch (three goals) fired for Richmond, the combined forced of Seb Ross and Callum Wilkie quelled the influence of the returning Dustin Martin to great effect.
Saints Jake Carlisle (nine marks), Jack Billings (25 disposals) and 2020 newcomer Josh Battle (16 disposals, one goal) were solid all day to be among the best for their side.
The triumph evens the red, white and black’s ledger and makes amends for last week’s performance, with the victory buoyed by the Hon. Greg Hunt’s announcement that the Federal Government would pledge $1 million towards a new clinical trial for Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes.
It looked like the Tigers of old had returned after Shane Edwards jagged the first major in the opening 10 seconds of the game, before a subsequent four-goal run from the Saints signalled their intentions to recapture their Round 2 form.
The red-hot Butler opened St Kilda’s scoring account for the third consecutive week as the Saints’ pressure and strength on the counter-attack began to pay dividends on the scoreboard.
Ratten's men were noticeably more aggressive compared to last Saturday’s action and maintained that consistency across all four quarters, with Zak Jones, Ben Long and Jack Steele’s hardness standing up in the clinches.
Richmond brought the heat in the second term to challenge the Saints’ resolve, but spirited bursts and end-to-end plays showed the home side weren’t going to retreat into their shells.
Three clean goals to Lonie, Butler and Bradley Hill from fluid passages showcased the new-look Saints at their peak, while Lynch and Jack Riewoldt’s strong hands up forward kept the Tigers in the contest up the other end.
Hearts were in mouths when Hill was felled in a late tackle with a suspected ankle injury, but ran out the game unhampered to finish with 19 touches.
Jade Gresham was just as lucky after copping a nasty hit – and a nice shiner – to the face in the dying stages of the third term. Jones didn’t fare as well after being benched with hamstring tightness in the same quarter.
Three straight majors straight after half-time thrust the Saints out to a 28-point lead, but Damien Hardwick's victory-starved side refused to throw in the towel as a handy goal from Nankervis on the three-quarter time siren sliced the deficit to under three goals.
A late charge from the yellow-and-black in the final term came close to derailing St Kilda's stunning display, before Kent steadied the ship 10-minutes in to establish a match-winning buffer.
While the Tigers will look to rekindle their Premiership form over the coming weeks, credit goes to the red, white and black in what was a momentous day for the club.
St Kilda will look to chalk up its third win of the season next Saturday afternoon against Carlton, while Richmond will be seeking its second win of the year against West Coast at Metricon Stadium next Thursday night.
ST KILDA 5.2 8.2 12.2 15.3 (93)
RICHMOND 4.1 6.3 9.5 10.7 (67)
St Kilda: Butler 3, Membrey 3, Lonie 2, Kent 2, Marshall 2, Battle, Marsh, Hill
Richmond: Lynch 2, Bolton 2, Edwards, Castagna, Riewoldt, Higgins, Nankervis, Stack
St Kilda: Butler, Marshall, Membrey, Billings, Steele, Carlisle, Battle, Ross
Richmond: Nankervis, Prestia, Lynch, Edwards, Cotchin, Astbury
St Kilda: Ryder (managed) replaced in the selected side by Kent, Gresham (eye), Jones (hamstring tightness)