MELBOURNE 4.1 8.3 10.6 10.6 (66)
ST KILDA 5.4 8.5 10.9 12.12 (84)

A well trained Melbourne gave a professional St Kilda outfit a mighty scare last night at the MCG. Despite running out as winners by 18 points, the Saints needed a stoic last quarter to keep their lead and their top 4 aspirations alive.

After yet another week of scrutiny, Melbourne arrived at the ‘G on Saturday night looking like a completely different side to the one that had competed for the first four weeks of the competition.

After a competent performance against the Bulldogs, the Dees looked close to finding a balance between skill and intensity as they attacked St Kilda for the first 3 quarters.

James Frawley was a big loss -

The Demons were missing full forward Mitch Clark to a neck strain and lost full back James Frawley to a calf issue earlier in the day. It meant that young Tom McDonald got the daunting job on Nick Riewoldt, while James Sellar had the job of creating a target in the forward line.

The Dees kicked the first two goals, before Riewoldt and Stephen Milne both hit the left hand post from irresponsible snaps where drop punts would have done the job. The Saints rallied anyway, and kicked the next two to spend the end of the first quarter in front.

Leigh Montagna and James Magner had a spat at the beginning of the game, Magner having to leave the ground with blood gushing from a wound under his eye.

Montagna could be in trouble should clearer footage be found, while Brendon Goddard and Jordie McKenzie were involved in a number of blues – the most notable when the latter gave Goddard a shove as he tried to get up, with the star Saint replying by slinging the Demons tagger to the ground.

We await Gary Ablett’s ‘oh so valuable opinion’ on McKenzie’s game, which is sure to arrive soon.

Both sides fought hard in the second quarter. Former West Coast defender Beau Wilkes starred on debut for the Saints, scoring three goals and clunking a spectacular mark over Jared Rivers before being inexplicably substituted in the third term.

Lynden Dunn was also substituted after 50 metre roost to keep the Dees in the game, but his impact was lacking through the rest of the game.

The Saints were up by two points at half time, and three by the last break – but the momentum was all the Demons way.

When Mark Jamar palmed down the first bounce of the term to Brent Moloney, the former Geelong midfielder ignored his teammates in the forward-line to baulk around a few defenders. Caught holding the ball, the Saints managed to hold their lead and the momentum for the rest of the game.

Lenny Hayes gave them two-goal lead late with a composed goal, before Nick Riewoldt – who was held by six-game defender Tom McDonald all match – scored his second to put the game beyond doubt.

In the end, the Saints were just too good for a Melbourne side that is improving week by week under Mark Neeld. The Saints play Hawthorn next week, watch out for a cracker…while Melbourne face their theatre of doom: Simonds Stadium against the Cats up next.

3. Nick Dal Santo was just too classy for the Dees young midfield, looking clean where others didn’t in the wet weather.

2. Jordie McKenzie kept champion utility Brendan Goddard to a modest 15 possessions with an efficiency rate of under 50% – showed no fear in the contest or off the ball.

1. Nathan Jones continued his fine start to 2012, accumulating 27 touches and two goals.

Melbourne: Jones 2, Bail 2, Moloney, Bate, Watts, Davey, Dunn, Bartram,
St Kilda: Wilkes 3, Milne 2, Steven 2, Riewoldt 2, Stanley, Montagna, Hayes

Melbourne: Jamar, Jones, Rivers, McKenzie, McDonald, Grimes, Magner
St Kilda: Hayes, Fisher, Dal Santo, Milera, Wilkes, Armitage

Melbourne: Frawley (calf) replaced in selected side by Tapscott
St Kilda: Nil

Melbourne: Lynden Dunn replaced by Colin Sylvia in the third quarter
St Kilda: Beau Wilkes replaced by Dean Polo in the third quarter