At a glance:
- Luke Dunstan was terrific in his return to the senior ranks, collecting 26 touches, 13 tackles and seven clearances while limiting the influence of Ben Cunnington.
- The midfielder's past four games at VFL level have yielded 146 disposals and eight goals.
- Dunstan credits his month with the Zebras towards recapturing his instinct and completing four-quarter performances.
To say it’s been an exasperating year-and-a-half for Luke Dunstan would be quite the understatement.
A near-season-ending pectoral injury in 2020 abruptly ended his follow-up campaign to an eight-placed finish at the Trevor Barker Award, while this season has seen his magnet parked on the wrong side of the whiteboard for all but one game.
Prior to Saturday’s showing against North Melbourne, he’d played just two out of a possible 29 games at senior level.
But Dunstan grabbed the opportunity when it came his way yesterday afternoon, collecting an equal team-high 26 disposals, a personal-best 13 tackles and seven clearances while mitigating the influence of Kangaroos stalwart Ben Cunnington.
“I think I’m playing on instinct, which is what I want to do,” Dunstan told saints.com.au post-match.
“I just feel like playing a good solid month of footy at VFL helped me in good stead and I feel like I’m in good form.
“It probably enabled me to play that four quarters of footy which is something I’ve been trying to work on back there."
Dunstan’s start to the 2021 VFL Season was superb on a number of fronts, particularly in terms of his disposal numbers and presence around goal.
A 46-disposal haul against Port Melbourne was the pick of the bunch, while his past four outings yielded eight goals and an average of 36 touches.
But the midfielder remained on the outer up until this week, with the No. 7 one of four inclusions to take on North Melbourne.
While his efforts in front of an empty Marvel Stadium received a tick of approval, St Kilda still has work to do after taking its foot off the gas in the final quarter.
The Saints led by points at three-quarter time before the Roos put through five of the last six goals of the game to pare the margin back to 20 points.
“There were some parts where we played some pretty good footy during the first half, (but) obviously didn’t capitalise on our good work and then were a bit sloppy towards the end,” Dunstan said.
“We’ll review that pretty strongly. That’s what some of the conversations have been about – holding each other to a bit higher account and playing four quarters of footy.”