Nick Riewoldt added to his AFL legend on Sunday, producing a best-afield performance despite two dodgy calves.
The St Kilda captain kicked three goals and took a game-high 13 marks in tough conditions at the MCG as his team posted a scrappy 37-point win over Melbourne.
Adding to a good day for the Saints in miserable weather, Riewoldt’s key forward understudy Paddy McCartin took nine marks in easily his best senior game.
Three days after his two-year contract extension was announced, Saints coach Alan Richardson admitted that the 12.11 (83) to 6.10 (46) win put the team slightly ahead of his expectations for this season.
Riewoldt was in doubt for last week because of a right calf muscle injury and he suffered a corked left calf in the first quarter.
He looks unlikely to fly across for next Sunday’s game against Port Adelaide.
“He’s amazing, he’s got a very strong mind, he’s a very determined person,” Richardson said.
“He’s had a long career where he’s had to fight through some adversity with his body.
“So he knows he can get through and he was very strong for us.”
While the Saints did not kick a goal in the second term, they kicked clear in the second half for a comfortable win.
Defender Sean Dempster was another standout with 10 marks and 23 possessions.
The two teams are rebuilding and went into Sunday on five wins apiece.
The strong evidence from the match is that St Kilda are a big step ahead of the Demons.
“We broke the season into thirds, we won two games in the first third, three games in the second third and we’ve got seven games to go,” Richardson said.
“We had the Demons today, we’ve got some opposition that are higher on the ladder in the remaining six games and we want to continue to improve and we want to be strong.”
By contrast, Demons coach Paul Roos was furious at quarter-time after they only managed five inside 50s to 20 in the opening term.
They turned over the ball too often in the midfield and they were out-tackled 83-57.
“We slaughtered the footy, didn’t we,” Roos lamented.
“It was very hard to score.
“I think we made 53 turnovers, I think we gave them through the midfield and I think they kicked 6.4 or 6.5.
“But to their (St Kilda’s) credit, they were harder around the contest as well.”
Midfielder Jack Viney was a shining light for the Demons with a game-high 31 disposals as he beat opponent Jack Steven.