St Kilda notched a club first, winning its second game in a row for the first time in the AFLW, holding off a late charge by Geelong to win by nine points.
The Cats became the sixth team in AFLW history to go goalless for a game and were left to rue abysmal set shot goalkicking in the second half.
Footy returned to Moorabbin and, fittingly, St Kilda’s players wore black armbands and flags flew at half-mast following the passing of Shane Warne, who once called the ground home in his Saints reserves playing days.
Stream every match of the 2022 NAB AFLW Season Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.
Following a minute’s silence, St Kilda had the better of the first minutes of play, but blustery conditions favouring Geelong made scoring hard.
The Cats wrestled momentum back but were wayward in front of goal, and the Saints made them pay with just seconds left in the quarter, thanks to a Kate Shierlaw goal.
Tilly Lucas-Rodd was dominant in the middle for St Kilda in the first term and had a game-high four clearances.
Caitlin Greiser looked ominous in the first quarter, and it didn’t take her long to make her mark on the game in the second term, marking on the lead and converting a set shot from short range.
It was the only goal of the quarter as the Cats managed to hold off the Saints, who dominated inside-50s 11-2.
With Geelong’s prime ball-winner Amy McDonald down on her usual output, Nina Morrison lifted the Cats and had 11 disposals and 241m gained at halftime.
St Kilda’s defence was put under the pump in the third quarter as the Cats stole momentum and owned field position.
But they were left to rue sub-par goalkicking, with Chloe Scheer and Claudia Gunjaca missing simple shots from just 20m out.
Geelong had all the opportunities in the last quarter to steal the win, but a desperate St Kilda defence held up when it mattered most.
The Saints’ desperation was summed up by Nat Exon, who ran back with the flight of the ball to crash a pack of three Geelong players, to break up what would’ve been an uncontested mark 50m from goal.
St Kilda led by 14-points at halftime, and it was in large part thanks to the midfield show put on by Tilly Lucas-Rodd.
The AFLW’s best clearance player, Kiara Bowers, averages 6.8 per game this season, but such was Lucas-Rodd’s dominance the 25-year-old had seven at the main break.
She also had 14 disposals, three tackles and a staggering 288m gained.
Lucas-Rodd finished with 22 disposals, 12 clearances, 10 tackles and 377m gained.
Look to the future
With finals out of the equation for both teams, there was an eye to the future.
Georgie Prespakis is hotly tipped to win the Rising Star award and was tough in the clinches for the Cats again.
She had 16 disposals, four tackles and two clearances.
Darcy Guttridge has been in the AFLW system for five seasons now after starting life as a Magpie, but it was her most prolific game as a Saint.
The 22-year-old had 12 disposals, three tackles and two clearances.
Geelong’s inability to kick goals reared its ugly head again.
The Cats were kept goalless for their first time in AFLW history and have had five goalless halves and 18 goalless quarters this season.
It also means they have failed to kick a goal for the last six quarters of footy.
SAINTS 1.2 2.5 2.6 2.6 18
CATS 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.9 9
MOTTERSHEAD’S BEST Saints: Lucas-Rodd, Jakobsson, Phillips, White, Guttridge. Cats: Morrison, Gardiner, M.McMahon, Prespakis.
GOALS Saints: Shierlaw, Greiser. Cats: nil.
INJURIES Saints: nil. Cats: nil.
3 T. Lucas-Rodd (STK)
2 B. Jakobsson (STK)
1 C. Phillips (STK)