After a slow start to the 2011 season, in which they won just one of their first eight games, the Saints were flying when they travelled north in Round 19 for their first ever game against the Gold Coast Suns. In the eight for the first time all season, they would have viewed the encounter as an opportunity to consolidate their hard won position in the top half of the ladder. However, if they had visions of a relaxing visit to to Queensland’s south-east, Gary Ablett and the Suns had other ideas with the Saints forced to work hard for their 20 point victory.
The first quarter was an arm wrestle with both teams wasting opportunities early before Brett Peake gleefuly accepted a David Armitage hand off to kick the opening goal from 50m out. Nick Dal Santo, who would finish the night with 39 disposals and the three Brownlow votes, chimed in with the next goal after intercepting an errant Gold Coast clearing kick. The prize for most excited goal kicker was easily won by Tom Lynch who celebrated his soccered effort, the third goal of his career, with undisguised enthusiasm. Yet, just as the Saints looked to be putting a comfortable space between themselves and the home team, Zac Smith goaled in time on to close the gap to just 14 points at the first break.
Danny Stanley would bring the Suns within eight points with the second quarter’s opening goal. It would prove to be the only one the home team would kick prior to the 18 minute mark of any quarter. This inability to convert their opportunities proved costly as the Saints kicked clear with the next three goals of the term. The first through Jack Steven, a reward for relentless effort from the 24 year old. Stephen Milne responsible for the other two with a poacher’s effort from deep in the pocket and a set shot after getting on the end of a coast to coast movement from Brendon Goddard kick in.
Jarrod Harbrow’s goal deep in time on would reduce the margin to 15 points at half time. His team would be unable to capitalise on any potential momentum from it though, with goals at a premium as the game became more of an arm wrestle in the second half. The more mature and assured Saints thriving in these conditions to kick four of the next five goals to take a 34 point lead at the 13 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Justin Koschitzke, Milne, Dean Polo, and Peake hitting the scoreboard to wrap up the four points.
David Swallow and Gary Ablett would kick consolation goals for the Suns in the final minutes but the Saints had done enough. The final margin 20 points as Ross Lyon’s men firmed for a finals berth with their eighth win from their last 11 games.