A little under 12 months on from a famous victory over the Giants, the Saints met them in Round Five of the 2018 season with their season tinkering on the brink of disaster. After victory against the Lions in Round One, they had suffered four straight defeats and now found themselves in desperate need of victory to get their season back on track.
|AFL 2018: Signs of Life – Round Five v GWS.|
|AFL 2018: Richo’s Post Match Presser – Round Five v GWS.|
Ben Long was prominent in the First Term, in just his ninth game he was a live-wire for the Saints playing a key role in Jade Gresham‘s goal that opened the scoring for the afternoon. Hunter Clark would add a second for the Saints in the shadows of quarter time. However, a little more polish in attack from GWS, meant that the Saints trailed by three points at the first break.
Ryan Griffen would open the scoring for the visitors in the second quarter but the Saints answered quickly and confidently. With Paddy McCartin bursting to life with two goals in two minutes and a tremendous finish from Luke Dunstan from a seemingly impossible angle the men from Moorabbin grabbed a 10-point lead. Unfortunately, this works was undone somewhat by a late Jeremy Cameron goal but worse was to come after the half time break.
Having failed to put a space between them and the opponents in the second stanza, the Saints watched their lead evaporate as the Giants lifted their efforts after the main break. By the 14th minute of the third term, a Dylan Shiel goal saw the Saints fall 15-points behind and the contest looked to be slipping from their grasp. Enter Jack Steven. Not surprisingly, with his team needing him at this moment, the Saints talisman found a way to snap a much-needed goal. With it, he brought the margin back to nine points and gave his team hope going into the last break.
In continuing with their efforts to make life difficult for themselves, the Saints conceded early to begin the final term. They refused to be beaten though, Tom Hickey laid a vital shepherd to allow Sam Gilbert to drive the ball inside forward 50 in the lead up to a Jack Billings goal to again close to within two kicks.
An answering goal from Brett Deledio and a string of behinds saw the Giants out to a three goal lead after 15-minutes, and with the Saints butchering the ball with a disposal efficiency of just 47-percent in the last quarter, it seemed to be a match-winning advantage.
A goal to Mav Weller saw the Saints again within two kicks before Ben Long set the crowd alight with another goal for his burgeoning highlight reel that brought the contest back with a kick. Lining up for goal at the intersection of the 50-metre and boundary lines, Long baulked the man on the mark before snapping truly from the city-side flank. It was an exclamation mark on a performance that may well have been the best of his early career. Game on!
With time running down on the match, and the margin at seven points, McCartin found himself on the end of a Sam Gilbert inside 50 and marked strongly to have the chance to kick the most important goal of his career to date. Calmly as you like, he unleashed from the 50-metre arc and split the middle to cut the margin to one with three minutes to play.