A spot in the Preliminary Final was on the line when the third placed Saints met the second placed Cats in the 2010 Qualifying Final. It had been a shaky end to the season for Ross Lyon’s men which saw many pundits tipping an easy Geelong victory, some including Jay Clark even predicted a straight sets exit for the team. He would be proved wrong on both fronts with Hawthorn, the team he tipped to beat the Saints in the second round, eliminated by Fremantle too.
It was a fast start for the Saints with Michael Gardiner, a man well known for kicking goals against the Cats opening the scoring. Mathew Stokes with one, and Travis Varcoe with two, would answer for the Cats while the Saints missed a series of chances. Their firepower up forward would ultimately prove decisive though, with Nick Riewoldt kicking two goals either side of a Justin Koschitzke major to help the Saints to a nine-point quarter team lead.
Cameron Mooney, The Big Hairy Cat, would open the scoring in the second term but it was nothing more than the opening act to the Stephen Milne show. The Saints live wire would kick three goals in ten minutes to give his team a handy buffer. Brendon Goddard would be on hand to profit from an Andrew McQualter handpass outside fifty, to reinstate the team’s 20-point advantage after Mooney had kicked a second for the term.
When Clinton Jones and Leigh Montagna both kicked majors from outside fifty, the margin was out to 33-points and the Saints looked likely winners. While they would ultimately book their passage to the Preliminary Final, it was anything but smooth sailing. A third goal to Riewoldt would interrupt a run of three Geelong goals but only temporarily. Goals to Stokes and Steven Johnson in time on ensured the final quarter would be an epic battle.
Adam Schneider would steady things once again with the first goal of the final term after 12 minutes and four straight behinds for the Cats. Paul Chapman would bring the margin back within a kick before Travis Varcoe and Joel Selwood missed chances to take the lead. It looked as though Cameron Ling had grabbed it for his team in the final two minutes but his kick had come after Cameron Mooney had infringed against James Gwilt. A frustrated Mooney would remonstrate with the umpire as the ball came back to Gwilt. “You just lost us the game,” he would whinge over and over again when in fact it was he who had lost the game for his team.
The siren would blow a minute later and the Saints had won a famous, if controversial, victory. While the days following the match would see many debate the appropriateness of the umpires decision, it mattered little to St Kilda fans singing in the rain at the MCG that night.