A STUNNING third quarter blitz and Paddy Ryder’s ruck-forward masterclass have helped St Kilda improve their AFL finals credentials with a 10-point win over Geelong.
The Saints prevailed 13.12 (90) to 11.14 (80) at Marvel Stadium on Saturday in the only round-nine contest between two top-eight sides.
But it came at a cost as small forward Jack Higgins was substituted out under concussion protocols for the second time this season.
Geelong held the upper hand in an arm wrestle until midway through the third quarter, when St Kilda suddenly flicked a switch.
Ruck pair Ryder and Rowan Marshall both set up goals with their tap work as the Saints slammed on five majors in a 10-minute burst to seize momentum.
A seventh goal for the term, kicked by Tim Membrey on the three-quarter time siren, gave them a 16-point advantage after they had trailed by 22 points soon after the main break.
A ferocious spray by coach Chris Scott at the final change spurred Geelong into action and they got back within three points through two quick goals from Tom Hawkins.
But Ryder, who had been the game’s most influential ruckman to that point, pushed forward and responded with two goals of his own to steady the ship.
Ryder finished with three majors and had a hand in several others in a match- winning display.
Jade Gresham (30 disposals), Jack Sinclair (31) and Brad Crouch (36) were all outstanding for the Saints as Membrey and Max King kicked two goals apiece.
Hawkins booted four for Geelong and Zach Tuohy kicked two, while Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield battled hard in the midfield.
But the Saints had too many winners when it mattered most.
Higgins was substituted out of the match before half-time following a bump from Jake Kolodjashnij that could land the Cats defender in hot water.
Kolodjashnij also performed the tackle that led to Saints skipper Jack Steel’s shoulder injury, which was assessed at half-time.
Steele was moved forward after the main break and saw out the match.
It was St Kilda’s first win over Geelong since Round 14, 2016.
(C) AAP 2022