Jekyll & Hyde Saints Build For Finals
Sunday, January 28 2018 @ 09:46 am ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t ever write about St Mary’s, though one of his most famous books – The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde - fairly aptly describes the Green Machine this season. Supporters would be bouncing from delirium to despair as the Saints have gone from has-beens to supermen multiple times across the season. Three losses to start the season before two wins, a loss then three wins, three losses and now three wins.
So far, every time they fall to bits they bounce back. Every time they get on a roll, they crash. With three rounds remaining, fans must be wondering which Saints team will play out the final three rounds. However, maybe this is why they have won 32 flags since 1952 – they simply don’t understand when they are done. Nevertheless, after downing Buffaloes on the weekend, and nabbing third place on the ladder, Saints need to understand quickly to secure a finals double chance and another chance at glory.
In heavy conditions, the Saints and Darwin Buffaloes traded blows all match. Neither side could break away to a match winning lead, with less than a goal separating the teams for much of the match. Four lead changes in the final quarter made for heart attack football, but two goals in the final quarter to Saint Peter Mcfarlane saw them home by five points, despite four goals to Buffaloes’ Matt Campbell – one a huge goal from the boundary line in the last quarter.
The Australia Day clash between traditional rivals, Waratah and Wanderers, saw the ‘Tahs too good in the end, winning by 48 points on the back of a special six-goal haul from Michael Newton. In a match of efficiency, Waratah’s goal kicking was on the mark, whilst Wanderers were wayward. Yet Waratah remain in sixth place – locked in a battle royale with the Tiwi Bombers for fifth position on the ladder. But Saints (3rd) and Buffaloes (4th) are only half a game ahead of Waratah, so a big finish from here could see the ‘Tahs play finals.
If Palmerston could take anything at all away from the wreckage of Friday’s other Australia Day match against the Crocs, they were competitive at quarter time, just 19 points adrift of the flag favourites. But that is where it ended. The Magpies did not trouble the scorers for the remainder of the match as Southern Districts romped away to a 94-point victory and ensured the minor premiership. Whilst Will Farrer kicked another three goals to head the league tally on 42, the pleasing thing for Crocs is that they had ten goal kickers, meaning multiple avenues to goal – a huge bonus come finals time.
The Tiwi Bombers made it four wins in a row when they upset Nightcliff in the wet at Tracy Village. The Bombers needed a big scalp to remain a solid chance for finals, and they got just that in downing the second-placed Tigers. Nightcliff are in a slump – one win from their last five matches – and need to find their former selves quickly. Tiwi, on the other hand, are riding the crest of a wave with four wins in a row and a draw from their corresponding five games. Their finals spot is far from guaranteed, and next weekend they face the ladder leaders, but they are in a winning mood at the right end of the season.
Next weekend’s matches will see some terrific battles, three of which will shape the finals. St Marys will butt heads with Nightcliff in a game that both are absolutely desperate to win. Southern Districts will meet the in-form Tiwi Bombers whilst Waratah and Darwin Buffaloes will also clash in a game that both need to win. Just as important for both teams, to gain belief for next season, Palmerston will take on Wanderers in a battle for pride as much as it is for development.
St Marys 5 17 47 d Darwin Buffaloes 6 6 42
Waratah 15 5 95 d Wanderers 6 11 47
Southern Districts 15 11 101 d Palmerston 1 1 7
Tiwi Bombers 13 11 89 d Nightcliff 10 11 71