St Kilda’s finals campaign is over after suffering a heavy 31-point defeat to the Richmond Tigers at Metricon Stadium on Friday evening.
The Tigers dominated almost every facet of the one-sided encounter, and the Saints were utterly outclassed by the reigning champions.
Last weekend, Richmond were toppled by the Brisbane Lions after only managing 28 per cent efficiency inside 50.
But the return of Tom Lynch proved critical for the Tigers, who raced to an early lead after the tall forward almost immediately claimed a mark and scored inside the Saints defensive 50.
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A few minutes later, Shane Edmonds cleaned up a loose ball and kicked a well-directed grubber to extend Richmond’s advantage.
The Saints were disorganised and sloppy in their defence, but Shane Savage provided a rare highlight, booting a mammoth 60m goal before quarter-time.
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But the Saints were unable to close the gap, and found themselves behind by more than five goals at halftime.
It was all one-way traffic on the Gold Coast — St Kilda could only muster one major in the second quarter.
Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb tweeted: “Starting to suspect there’s a big gap between the top four and the rest of the teams who made the (finals).”
Richmond couldn’t seem to miss, with young gun Shai Bolton slotting three goals during the contest.
The Saints managed to outscore their opponents in the third quarter, reducing the deficit to 23 points to keep the match alive.
But with World No. 1 Ash Barty watching from the stands, Richmond continued the onslaught in the final 16 minutes, a classy goal from superstar Dustin Martin sealing the win.
However, Lynch could find himself in trouble with the MRO this week after thrusting his knee into Dougal Howard’s head during an unprovoked off-ball incident.
The scoreboard read 12.8 (80) to 6.13 (49) when the final siren sounded at Metricon Stadium, and the Tigers celebrated their emphatic victory.
Martin proved once again why he love finals footy, mustering 25 disposals, six clearances and a goal, while teammate Bachar Houli managed a game-high 32 disposals.
Meanwhile, Lynch and Edwards ended the semi-final with two majors each, the latter also contributing 21 disposals.
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Houli spoke to Channel 7 after the match: “The Saints have been outstanding all season and no doubt will be bigger and stronger next year. The way they fought gave us a great challenge. Very proud of the boys.
“When we get beaten, we know how to bounce back. In saying that, St Kilda were outstanding today. We just had to be proactive the way we played our football. Better than last week and the defensive intent was there which helped a lot.”
Richmond will take on Port Adelaide next weekend’s for their fourth consecutive preliminary final, with the winner advancing to the Grand Final.