St Kilda have prevailed in another cliffhanger against Gold Coast, beating the Suns by four points to stay in touch with the AFL’s top eight.
The Saints overcame their own sloppiness and a ferocious start from the Suns to claw back from 31 points down in Saturday afternoon’s third quarter to win 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76).
It keeps St Kilda within, at most, one win out of the eight and consigns the Suns (3-10) to a ninth-straight loss, many of which have come in similarly frustrating fashion for Stuart Dew’s rebuilding list.
The Saints move to 6-6 this season, with pressure easing on coach Alan Richardson after a heavy last-start loss to Port Adelaide in Shanghai and only one win from their six prior games.
The nailbiter, played out in front of 7243 fans in Townsville’s first AFL game, follows one and two-point wins over the Suns in their past two encounters.
St Kilda looked gone early in the third term but rallied to trail by just seven at the final turn. They went ahead for the first time with 11 minutes to play.
Saints standout Jack Billings (33 disposals, nine tackles) kicked two goals in an attempt to kill off the Suns, who were out on their feet but still throwing punches.
Alex Sexton snapped truly and Anthony Miles (27 touches, six tackles) goaled to make it a three-point game inside the final two minutes.
Tim Membrey (three goals) missed the chance to ice it with a wonky set shot, but they scrambled to clear the ball from the top of their defensive 50m zone in the ensuing play.
The Suns had earlier out-tackled and out-hustled St Kilda, camping in the opposing forward 50m zone to limit the Saints to just two first-quarter points, as Lachie Weller and Jarrod Harbrow drove from the back.
A Luke Dunstan rocket and debutant Nick Hind’s maiden goal kick-started St Kilda’s afternoon midway through the second quarter.
They kept getting in their own way, though, dominating the forward entries but continually bombing chances with dropped marks or poor options.