Shepparton News




Hobart: Fremantle have handed Essendon the last remaining finals spot without a fight, squanderin­g the chance to break into the top eight in a listless 58-point defeat to St Kilda in Hobart.

With everything to play for, the wasteful Dockers found themselves chasing the game yesterday as the Saints showed greater intent around the contest and were far more efficient going forward.

Cooper Sharman kicked four goals and co-captain Jack Steele overcame close attention from Dockers tagger Bailey Banfield in an influentia­l display in St Kilda’s 17.5 (107) to 6.13 (49) win at Blundstone Arena.

The result ended Fremantle’s season and saw the Saints leapfrog their opponents into 10th spot on percentage, with both sides finishing with 10-12 win-loss records.

St Kilda were without injured leading goalkicker Max King, but mid-season recruit Sharman stepped up with another impressive showing in his fifth senior game. His four goals went some way towards justifying the new two-year contract he signed during the week, while Tim Membrey kicked three.

Steele led from the front, with game-high tallies of 35 disposals and 16 contested possession­s to go with six clearances and seven tackles.

He had help, with Zak Jones (27 disposals) and Brad Crouch (28) busy, while Dan Hannebery (22) got through his second match of the season on return from a long injury lay-off.

Ruckman Rowan Marshall was also influentia­l, finishing with 21 disposals and two goals after primary opponent Sean Darcy left the game with a hip injury during the second half.

“It was a very good performanc­e,” Saints coach Brett Ratten said. “It was a game that might not have any meaning to it … but we went through before the game what we wanted to get out of it.

“It was very pleasing to see the attitude of the players and the way they played.”

Kicking with a breeze at their backs, the inaccurate Dockers managed just one goal from 15 forward entries in the first term.

Skill errors and poor structure ahead of the ball were contributi­ng factors in allowing St Kilda to create a 21-point buffer before the main break.

The Saints kicked four goals to one into the wind in the third quarter to put the result beyond doubt, then ran rampant in the final term.

As well as Darcy, the Dockers lost Sam Switkowski to a hip injury before half-time and managed key defender Alex Pearce (sore heel) in the final term.

Caleb Serong (35 disposals and nine clearances) and Andrew Brayshaw (29 and six) were Fremantle’s best.

“It was there for everyone to see, we didn’t have the same intensity as St Kilda and we left too much to too few, and that’s been a bit of our issue this year,” Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said.

“We’ve had our fair share of injuries and we were probably our hardest hit today, and we didn’t have enough players take up the slack and stand up.

“It’s a very disappoint­ing way to finish the season.”

 ?? Picture: AAP ?? Running riot: Saints midfielder Zak Jones handballs to Brad Hill during yesterday’s win over Fremantle.
Picture: AAP Running riot: Saints midfielder Zak Jones handballs to Brad Hill during yesterday’s win over Fremantle.

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