ST KILDA has extended their dominance over Gold Coast Suns with a gutsy nine-point AFL win at Metricon Stadium, launching a final term comeback after a halftime melee.
The Saints sealed back-to-back wins with the 8.15 (63) to 7.12 (54) result, registering their fifth straight victory over the Suns to maintain a winning run that stretches back to 2016.
The visitors outlasted the Suns, reeling in a 15-point final-term deficit to keep themselves in touch with the top eight with a 4-4 record.
After holding a three-point lead in the third term, the Saints did not get in front again until Paddy Ryder kicked truly midway through the final quarter to give the visitors a 57-53 advantage and set the stage for a thrilling finish.
In the end, the Saints held on after launching a final-term resurgence with goals by Jack Billings, Jack Higgins, Ryder and Brad Crouch.
It was a memorable end to a game marred by a fracas after the halftime siren.
As the dust settled on a scrappy first half, frustrations appeared to boil over when Saints ruckman Ryder floored Sam Collins.
It escalated quickly after Gold Coast’s 100-game milestone man Sean Lemmens crash tackled Dan Butler, with every player except Saint Jack Higgins at one stage involved in the resulting fracas.
Both teams face a nervous wait to see whether they will cop fines for the drama, in which Collins and Saints’ Zac Jones featured heavily.
It was yet another nailbiter between the two sides with St Kilda notching their fifth successive victory by nine points or fewer against the Queensland club.
St Kilda would have been backing themselves to extend their dominance over the Suns after making just one change to the line-up that thrashed Hawthorn last round, with Mason Wood coming in for Seb Ross who was a late withdrawal after his wife gave birth to twins on Friday.
However, they appeared on the back foot from the outset in a scrappy first term in which Ben King kicked the only major to give the hosts a 10-3 buffer at the opening interval.
The game was locked up at 3.7 (25) to 3.7 (25) at the main break before the visitors grabbed the lead early in the third 35-32.
However, Gold Coast hit back with goals by Josh Corbett, Nick Holman and Lachie Weller to grab a 7.9 (51) to 4.12 (36) buffer at the final interval.
For St Kilda, Crouch and Jones had 30 touches each while Billings kicked two goals and had 25 disposals.
For Gold Coast (3-5 record), King won the family battle with his twin – Saints forward Max – scoring three goals to his brother’s one in only his second game against his sibling.
(C) AAP 2021
ST KILDA 0.3 3.7 4.12 8.15 (63)
GOLD COAST 1.4 3.7 7.9 7.12 (54)
Goals: St Kilda: J Billings 2 J Steele 2 B Crouch J Higgins M King P Ryder. Gold Coast: B King 3 I Rankine J Corbett L Weller N Holman.
Umpires: Robert Findlay, Craig Fleer, John Howorth.
Official Crowd: 9,271 at Metricon Stadium.