Saints claim comeback AFL win over Suns
St Kilda have 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 sixth straight victory over the Suns to maintain a winning run that stretches back to 2016.
The visitors outworked and ultimately outlasted the Suns, kicking the final four goals of the match to reel in a 15-point final term deficit and stay in touch with the top eight with a 4-4 record.
"Our work rate was exceptional," St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said.
"We understand where we are at. We haven't played the footy we have been after.
"We need to keep finding a way. Today was full of guts; just grind, roll your sleeves up, old-fashioned footy."
After holding a three-point lead in the third term, the Saints did not get in front again until inspirational ruckman Paddy Ryder kicked truly midway through the final quarter to give the visitors a 57-53 advantage and set the stage for a nail-biting finish.
In the end the Saints' hard-working midfield proved the difference in a final-term resurgence that featured majors by Jack Billings, Jack Higgins, Ryder and Brad Crouch.
In his second game back after personal leave, Ryder sparked the Saints' final-quarter midfield stranglehold, with the visitors dominating clearances (37-27) and hit-outs (49-15).
"He went through some things he had to deal with and he's come back and really played some great footy," Ratten said of Ryder.
It was another tight finish between the teams, with the Saints now having won five straight by nine points or fewer against the Suns, who have a 3-5 record this season.
There was no love lost between the sides as indicated by a fracas that erupted after the halftime siren.
As the dust settled on a scrappy first half, frustrations boiled over after Ryder appeared to floor Sam Collins.
It escalated quickly after Gold Coast's 100-game milestone man Sean Lemmens crash tackled Dan Butler, with every player except the Saints' Higgins involved in the resulting melee.
Both teams may cop a fine for the drama, in which Nick Holman - who suffered a final-term concussion - and Saints' midfield star Zak Jones featured heavily.
Suns coach Stuart Dew cut a frustrated figure after his side let a golden chance to claim his first win over the Saints slip.
"St Kilda played really well but I don't think we fired our best shot this afternoon, which was disappointing," he said.
"We hung in there when it wasn't going well early, but it stings watching that."
For the Saints, Billings had 25 touches and two goals while Jack Steele (26 disposals, two goals) and Jones (30 disposals) were also impressive.
For the Suns, Touk Miller had a game high 33 touches while Ben King kicked three goals.
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