The fans have spoken, and as voted by you, Paddy Ryder is the Dare Iced Coffee Sainter of the Round from Saturday’s elimination final.
The veteran ruckman’s night against the Bulldogs may have ended in heartbreak after sustaining a hamstring tendon injury in the last two minutes, but ensured his presence was felt before being forced to ice up.
Ryder was best-on-ground for the Saints with a sensational 20-hit-out, two-goal performance to drive the club towards its first finals win since 2010.
Saturday afternoon also confirmed a maiden finals victory for the 32-year-old after 257 games between Essendon, Port Adelaide and St Kilda.
Ryder outmuscled young Bulldog Tim English in the ruck duel, notching up nine hit-outs to advantage and contributing seven score involvements to get the scoreboard ticking over at crucial times.
The big man was equally striking in the air with six marks (two contested), including one deep in defence late which directly resulted in a Dan Butler goal late in the third term.
A goal for Ryder either side of half-time helped extend the Saints’ lead out to 26-points at three-quarter time, before the red, white and black held on for an enthralling three-point victory.
Two votes go to Jarryn Geary, whose inspiring performance was just as crucial in St Kilda’s progression into the second week of finals.
Nine years on from his last finals appearance, the skipper made sure to play a vital hand with two brilliant goals, seven marks (four contested) and seven score involvements.
Geary started the match as a defensive forward on All-Australian selection Caleb Daniel before – not too dissimilar from his Round 5 efforts on Carlton’s Sam Docherty – packing a scoreboard punch of his own.
The skipper selflessly handed off his first opportunity to Tim Membrey early in the first term, narrowly missed another after the siren before capitalising with a two-goal bag in the second half.
Geary’s marking was first-class, with all four of his contested grabs resulting in scores for the red, white and black, while his undying leadership across the ground stood up under the weight of finals pressure.
Rounding out this week’s voting is Nick Coffield, who was simply outstanding as the pressure and intensity ramped up late in the game.
The Saints’ No.1 marker had his safe hands on show with eight marks (five intercepts), four of which came in the hair-raising final quarter.
Coffield added to his first finals outing with 14 disposals at over 85 per cent efficiency, seven intercepts and a crucial free kick won with less than a minute left on the clock.
St Kilda now turns its attention to Friday’s blockbuster semi-final against Richmond at Metricon Stadium.