18/04/2024

Brisbane debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin played an important role in her team's five point win. Picture: St Kilda FCW

When Brisbane couldn’t get anything going, it was debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin who sparked its thrilling five-point victory over St Kilda.

When Brisbane couldn’t get anything going, it was debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin who sparked its thrilling five-point win over St Kilda.

Eight minutes into the third quarter, the Lions only had an inaccurate eleven behinds up to that point.

But it was the reigning premiers’ least experienced player who opened the dam wall, with Yoshida-Martin’s dribble kick giving Brisbane its first goal and the lead.

From there, the Lions managed to kick two more goals in the third, while keeping the Saints outside of their inside 50 for the entire quarter.

Brisbane went goalless in every other term, but the third quarter blitz was enough to secure its fourth win in a row, despite St Kilda ultimately finishing with one more goal in total.

Post-match, Lions coach Craig Starcevich said he was disappointed with how his side started, but they took control after quarter-time.

“The first quarter we were sitting back and spectating a little bit, while the opposition showed us how to run the ball up into the breeze and get some scoring going,” Starcevich said.

“From quarter-time onwards, we were pretty good in general play and had the 16 (scoring) shots, so you’d be pretty disappointed to lose a game like that.”

While the Lions’ performance was hardly one of the history books, the continued good form of defender Phoebe Monahan, who’s looming as this year’s bargain recruit, encapsulated their gritty win.

Delisted by Richmond at the end of last season, Monahan has played a consistent and important role for the reigning premiers, which became essential once Kate Lutkins went down with an ACL injury.

She produces multiple defensive one percenters each match, one of which was a brilliant goal saving tackle on Caitlin Greiser that went unrewarded.

One concern for the Lions is that key forward Dakota Davidson left the game in the third quarter due to a head knock, which could keep her out for at least 12 days under the league’s concussion protocols.

“It might actually cost her more than one game, because we’ve got a few in a row,” Starcevich said on Davidson’s injury.

“I’ll see what the doc says, but it’s probably not looking good.”

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For St Kilda, Sunday’s result was a bitter pill to swallow.

While the team produced its best performance in what’s been a disappointing season, it’s still ultimately winless.

Strong first and last quarters weren’t enough to overcome the experience and poise of Brisbane, who only need one term of accuracy and dominance.

Saints coach Nick Dal Santo said after the match it was a mixed result, with his team showing improvement, but failing to execute in key moments.

“I thought our energy and effort was a lot better than what it was five or six days ago,” Dal Santo said.

“I thought we competed really hard, maybe that’s a sign of where we’re at, we didn’t just quite execute in those areas that are really important.

“An improvement, but a lot of work to do.”

There was plenty to like from the Saints though, especially Nicola Xenos, who gave the team its early lead with her two first quarter goals.

With the primary focus being on the absence of Georgia Patrikios (the league’s vaccine mandate) and Tarni White (ACL), Xenos’ return has arguably flown under the radar.

Losing the dangerous small forward to an ACL injury just two days out from the 2021 season was a major blow, with the Saints struggling to find another reliable avenue to goal outside of Caitlin Greiser last year.

Sunday’s match was a reminder of just how valuable Xenos can be to this side.

Players who can kick two goals in a quarter, while applying constant tackling pressure (six for the game) are hard to come by.

One of the saving graces of St Kilda’s year could be seeing Xenos’ continued growth in her second full season at the level.

Skipper Hannah Priest was also one of the Saints best, playing a run with role on Emily Bates, while having an impact on general play.

There are legitimate concerns that St Kilda could join the likes of Carlton 2018, Richmond 2020 and Gold Coast 2021 in having a winless season, especially after losing to West Coast on Tuesday.

But while the Saints are yet to get on the winners list in 2022, Sunday’s strong performance against the reigning premiers offers hope.

“We honestly never speak about an honourable loss, we speak about the measurements that we think are really important,” Dal Santo said on the close defeat.

‘We speak about our values and being able to do it for four quarters.

“I thought today we did it for probably the majority, but the majority ain’t gonna get it done.”

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