AFL – Saints’ finals hopes spiralling

A horror post-bye period has seen St Kilda — at one stage seen as almost locks for the AFL Top 8 — turn into finals outsiders in 2022.

How and why have things go south so quickly at St Kilda?

After a better-than-expected start to the season that saw them race out to 8-3, the Saints have lost three on the bounce and are all of a sudden considerable finals outsiders. Perhaps most damningly, the losses have become progressively worse. Against the Lions in Round 13 a gallant effort saw them fall short, before a poor showing against a lowly Essendon saw concerns heightened. But an insipid effort against the Swans in AFL Round 15 was damning. It saw Brett Ratten’s men kick just 2.6 until three-quarter time — their lowest return after three terms since 2014. They went a whopping 63 minutes without a major within the smaller confines of the SCG.

After shortening into strong $1.25 Top 8 hopes with Palmerbet, the Saints have quickly lengthened to $3.00 on the back of the defeats.

‘Lost their way’

Some are scratching their head at how quickly the Saints have fallen away. The losses could be put down to a combination of a lack of competitiveness, and unwillingness to take the game on. Against the Bombers the effort simply wasn’t there, while against the Swans they were criticised for being too conservative; refusing to move the ball through the middle and predictably going down the line at the SCG, arguably playing into Sydney’s hands. “They were disappointing, they’ve really lost their way the last fortnight,” AFL legend Jonathan Brown told Fox Footy after that clash. “Last week it was more lack of effort I thought, they were embarrassed as Brett Ratten said during the week. Then tonight they just couldn’t score, so at both ends of the park there seems to be some issues.”

Once $2.50 Top 4 chances, the Saints are now way out to $15 in that market.

King or bust?

The Saints have relied heavily on young gun forward Max King in 2022. In fact, he has kicked 3+ goals in all but two of their wins this AFL season, and singlehandedly dragged them over the line in a tense Round 10 win away in Adelaide with a bag of six. However he has managed just three goals in his last three games, and was held goalless against the Swans. Ratten blamed the delivery, and said “you kick the ball like that to anyone, you could be Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall. You’ve got no chance.” But others have said the key forward need to further his forward craft. King has moved from $5.50 out to $8.00 in Palmerbet’s Coleman Medal market.

To come

It’s worth remembering that the Saints sit outside the AFL Top 8 only on percentage. But their price has likely ballooned out because of a tough draw to come. They face Carlton, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs over the next three weeks. Then, to finish the season, they face Top 4 hopefuls Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney. It’s one of the league’s most difficult runs home. They start the clash against the Blues this Friday night as $2.42 outsiders.

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