Dees stay on target as Saints rue poor goal kicking

The Saints have insisted they are doing all they can to improve their forward play and goal kicking. Well, there's still much to be done for their woes in front of goal were on display against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and would ultimately prove the difference.

On a day when Paddy McCartin's health issues stymied his performance and raised questions about his career, the Saints would be left languishing near the foot of the ladder, any hope of making the finals all but gone after a 39-point loss.

Dees day: Tom McDonald and Alex Neal-Bullen enjoy another succsessful outing for Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

While tougher challenges await what still remains an inconsistent Melbourne, that they took care of business was a sign they no longer can stand losing contests they are expected to win. Former coach Paul Roos was one uncertain onlooker heading into this contest, and he would leave a contented man.

Not so, Saints coach Alan Richardson, who was left to rue the wasted shots in front of goal. While the Saints had plenty of the ball, their woes were exposed in the first term when nine shots, including two which did not score, produced 17 points. The Demons were clinical, converting six shots into 31 points.

This pattern continued in the second term when the Saints had to take a stand. Seb Ross, who had been excellent in general play, wasted his fine tackle on Dom Tyson by botching the ensuing set shot from 30 metres out. David Armitage missed a long shot moments later and when Ross' second attempt drifted wide, this time on the run from 50m, the yips had again emerged. The hushed tone of the Saints' fans said it all – and would continue through the afternoon.

There were more worries when Paddy McCartin, a type-1 diabetic, was unable to leave the bench for the opening 10 minutes of the second term after the doctors found he had hypoglycemia, as his blood sugar levels were too low. He was tested several times before being cleared to take to the field. But it wasn't long before he returned to the pine, this time after he and Demons' defender Neville Jetta clashed heads in a marking contest.

Throw down: Saints’ Rowan Marshall lays a tackle on Demon Neville Jetta.

McCartin, who has been knocked out six times since 2014, initially refused to leave the field but ultimately did, and was sent to the dressingroom for testing. He was cleared to play during the main break but remained goalless and did not have an influence before his day was officially shut down early in the final term.

Where the Saints got little from their key forwards, counterparts Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald were influential, whether that be pushing up the ground or doubling back to goal.

Hogan has enjoyed his best start to a season and has physically matured to handle the demands of centre half forward. He would have a hand in several goals and boot three of his own, although he wasted one after a soft free kick was paid against Jake Carlisle. McDonald, also a strong runner, booted two and reinforced why he had been missed through injury earlier in the season.

This one-two forward punch was enough to knock the Saints out. That the Demons would finish with 12 goal-kickers, including two from young tall Sam Weideman, reinforced why good judges had been buoyant about their aspirations through the pre-season.

Christian Petracca, just days after having 10 stitches and a steel plate in his finger because of a dog bite, made his presence felt.

High and mighty: Melbourne’s Max Gawn gets in top spot during a ruck contest.

The Demons' impressive work up forward was derived, in part, through the dominance of Max Gawn. Whether that be in the ruck or in general play, his influence was pivotal over a gallant Tom Hickey. Gawn pushed deep into defence and stalled the Saints with key marks, went forward when possible while his work with the midfielders was exceptional.

"We have to keep going – we have a couple of big games over the next few weeks," Gawn said.

Clayton Oliver, initially tagged by Luke Dunstan, Dom Tyson and Angus Brayshaw, the latter with a career-high 33 disposals, found plenty of the ball, and used it well. The Demons dominated contested possession, this helping them to a 28-point break by half-time.

The Demons are at their best when they prefer to kick than handball, this helping them attack with greater purpose. This continued in the second half, ensuring the Saints' promising fightback with two quick goals to open the third term was silenced.

Ross, last year's Trevor Barker medallist, has been inconsistent but he would have one of his better days. Jack Steven was typically full of run, Luke Webster was brave, working hard in defence and providing drive from half-back, but the Demons had too many contributors – and that's been the tale of the tape too often this season for the Saints.

Saints chief executive Matt Finnis said last week their start to the season had been "completely unacceptable". It shapes as another tough week at Moorabbin.

5.1 8.6 13.10 16.10 (106)
2.5 3.8 7.10 9.13 (67)

GOALS – Melbourne: Hogan 3, Weideman 2, TMcDonald 2, Brayshaw, Neal-Bullen, Oliver, Petracca, Spargo, Tyson, Harmes, Gawn, Jones.
St Kilda: Long 2, Armitage 2, Membrey 2, Gresham, Dunstan, Hickey.
BEST – Melbourne: Gawn, Brayshaw, Oliver, Hogan, Tyson.
St Kilda: Steven, Ross, Webster.
UMPIRES: McInerney, Foot, Fisher.
CROWD: 25,496 at Etihad Stadium.

Jesse Hogan (Melbourne) 8
Max Gawn (Melbourne) 8
Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) 8
Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne) 8
Dom Tyson (Melbourne) 7

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