26/02/2024

The Saints celebrate a goal in Perth. (Photo: St Kilda FC/Twitter; Design: Will Cuckson)

Halfway through the season, the Saints looked set to return to September action once again. However, a sudden capitulation after their bye in round 12 resulted in another disappointing end to a once promising season.

Finishing position: 10th (11 wins, 11 losses)

What worked?

While the Saints were lamented at various times this season for their over-reliance on young gun Max King, they played their best footy when their whole forward line got involved and took the stress off his shoulders.

Earlier in the season, the Saints had four goalkickers kick four majors in their 69-point win over the Hawks, followed by Jack Higgins, Jade Gresham and King combining for 10 goals.

When the Saints saw multiple contributors, it caused havoc for opposition defenders that placed significant emphasis on King, and allowed the likes of Higgins, Gresham and key forward Tim Membrey to get involved.

What didn’t?

The Saints; goal was under siege at many points in the back-half of the season, as their undersized and undermanned backline was exposed.

The key defending duo of Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie struggled to repel taller opposition forward lines, while the smaller defenders fell out of form as the season progressed and began to leak goals.

While Wilkie had a career-best season, injuries and poor form of his counterpart Howard, along with their outlined size disadvantage, saw the Saints finish the season with the seventh most marks against.

Breakout stars:

An out-and-out star for the Saints this year was now All-Australian half-back, Jack Sinclair.

Sinclair was the Saints’ best and most consistent player in 2022, after almost being on the outer at Moorabbin just two seasons ago.

He averaged 27.7 disposals a game this season, including a career-high 37 against the Blues in Round 16. He was prolific in rebounding the ball out of the back half, averaging 514.4 meters gained.

Max King is another player who’s star continues to rise off the back of even more improvement this season.

While his accuracy in front of goal leaves much to be desired, he still kicked 52 goals in 2022, an increase of 14 from last season.

His marking prowess (5.2 marks per game in 2022) and ability around the ground is what excites Saints fans the most. He will only benefit from another off-season to gain some size and begin manhandling opposition defenders, along with improving his troublesome goal kicking.

More AFL Season Reviews

AFL 2022 Season Review: Port Adelaide

AFL 2022 Season Review: Gold Coast Suns

AFL 2022 Season Review: Adelaide Crows

Highest point:

St Kilda started the season in fine form, going 5-1 in the opening six rounds of the season.

These games also saw some extremely impressive wins, including two against eventual finalists Richmond and Fremantle, the latter in Perth.

Then, after a troublesome period, arguably their best win of the season came against Geelong, in what was to be the Cats’ last loss in the home and away season. Retiring star Paddy Ryder was spectacular, kicking three goals and having 22 hit-outs, including a decisive one to ice the game.

Paddy Ryder was fantastic against the Cats in Round 9. (Photo: St Kilda FC)

Lowest point:

The month of June proved extremely unkind to the Saints, suffering three defeats against the Lions, Bombers and Swans, with the latter two setting alarm bells ringing at Moorabbin.

The defeat to the Bombers was arguably the lowest point of the year for the Saints, as the Bombers lingered much lower on the ladder and dismantled a dismal Saints outfit.

The Saints only won three more games for the rest of the year, with two of those wins coming against sides in the bottom six.

Where to next?

The Saints chances at a premiership with this list is rapidly declining and will need to improve dramatically before 2023.

The next season could be the last chance with aging players of the likes of Brad Crouch, Zak Jones and Brad Hill near their best, while they continue to develop their talented young crop of the 2021 draft in Marcus Windhager, Mitch Owens and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera.

The Saints will look to add a ruckman to their list to fill the hole left by Ryder, along with some more potential X-factor talents that have the ability to turn a game.

The next step for the Saints could be one last crack at a flag tilt which, if proven unsuccessful, could see the unfortunate demise of a once promising list.

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