Round 22, 2009
Melbourne vs St. Kilda
Sunday 30 August
St. Kilda win by 47 points
Goalkickers: Liam Jurrah 4, Mark Jamar 1, Brad Miller 1, Brent Moloney 1, Russell Robertson 1, Colin Sylvia 1, Paul Wheatley 1
With the wooden spoon a certainty, and the number one pick assured, most of the interest around this game centered on three retiring Demon champions and how much St. Kilda would win by. Having gone 19 rounds without a defeat the Saints had dropped two in a row and desperately needed a tune up for the finals during their first visit to the MCG all season.
The Demons, however, started brightly and took a lead into quarter time. Despite repeated penetrations inside 50 James Frawley and Jared Rivers were standing tall in the backline and Liam Jurrah was continuing his exciting season with an overhead snap for goal that brought the crowd to their feet.
The betting markets tightened and some nervously started talking about one of the great upsets, one that would rob the Demons of their priority pick and a shot at the second best youngster in the land at the draft table. They needn't have worried, Nick Riewoldt took advantage of Frawley being taken to the bench to outmatch Lynden Dunn for three goals and even though the Saints took a slender lead into half time they still looked far better value.
St. Kilda jumped early in the third quarter and it seemed they were going to power away Jurrah's third and fourth shut the margin down again. It would have taken a brave tipster to pick the Demons to win from there but they were impressing against a top side who were off their game.
Two of the retirees got their last moments of glory in the final term. Russell Robertson, who been desperately trying to get into the game all day, made himself a goal and ran to the crowd to celebrate. Paul Wheatley treated the fans to two trademark torpedoes into the centre square from kick-ins before receiving a handball from Jake Spencer 60m out and bombing a huge goal. His performance was made more impressive by the fact that he had torn a calf muscle on the Friday and wouldn't have been playing had there been something on the line.
The last retiree, Matthew Whelan, was restricted by a hamstring injury suffered the week before and spent most of his day in the unfamiliar surroundings of the forward line. He still found time for a couple of trademarks big tackles to send the fans home happy.
The Saints kicked away after Wheatley's goal and had a more comfortable win than they perhaps deserved. The Melbourne faithful though were more interested in farewelling a trio of great players with an emotional lap of honour before they were chaired off.
Best were Sylvia, Morton and Jamar. Nathan Jones was fined $2850 for making contact with an umpire.