08 March 2008
ST KILDA has claimed the 2008 NAB Cup title with a well-deserved five-point win over Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Saturday night.
Leading narrowly after an intense first half that produced only five goals, the Saints swept to a 20-point third term lead and weathered a Kurt Tippett-inspired Crows attack to win 2.7.9 (69) to 0.9.10 (64) in front of 26,823 fans.
The temperature was nudging 35 degrees for the first bounce and both sides appeared to feel the heat in a contest that was extremely close throughout.
Saints link man Jason Gram (one super goal) was everywhere for the visitors and won the Michael Tuck medal as best-afield, while Adam Schneider was more than useful and Stephen Milne (three goals) popped up importantly in the last term.
Veteran Robert Harvey's precision foot passing also played a role for the visitors.
Adelaide possessed the most dangerous forward on the ground in the shape of youngster Tippett (four goals), but fell victim to some questionable kicking and the pressure imposed by the Saints.
In a battle of two of the league's least prolific attacks last year, the Crows won more of the early ball but were unable to convert that into a significant lead, despite the livewire potential of ex-basketballer Tippett.
His expertly juggled mark and goal was the only major of the first term, and the Crows went into a sweaty huddle leading by those six points.
The heat's effect was neatly surmised by the Saints' choice to spend the break inside their rooms rather than the traditional spot on the members wing.
They started the fresher in the second as Nick Riewoldt's true conversion from a typically precise Harvey pass reduced the margin to a point, and Schneider capitalised on a Scott Thompson indiscretion to grab 50m and the half-time advantage.
A closely fought first half gave way to a more frenetic third quarter as first the Saints then the Crows grabbed the momentum.
Gram's wobbly, bouncing nine-pointer, either side of goals to Riewoldt and Xavier Clarke, allowed St Kilda to establish a significant 20-point lead, but almost as quickly as they built it, the Crows tore it down.
Tippett enjoyed a dominant 10-minute burst of the sort not seen by an Adelaide forward since Tony Modra's heyday, nabbing two goals and creating numerous other chances as the margin diminished to three at the last change.
A sweetly struck goal by Nathan van Berlo was answered by one each to Saints small Milne and tall Justin Koschitzke, but the match turned on the next score.
With nine minutes remaining Adelaide won a downfield free-kick outside 50m that Tippett nailed for what the on-field umpires initially deemed a nine-pointer that tied the scores.
However after further consultation the goal was reduced to six-point status, and the Saints were able to hang on for a third night title in the past 13 years with another late major to Milne.
A Brett Burton goal on the siren was too little too late for the Crows.
ST KILDA 0.0.4 1.2.5 2.4.7 2.7.9 (69)
ADELAIDE 0.1.4 0.2.9 0.6.10 0.9.10 (64)
St Kilda: A Schnieder J Gram
St Kilda: S Milne 3 N Riewoldt 2 J Koschitzke X Clarke.
Adelaide: K Tippett 4 B Burton 2 R Douglas S Goodwin N van Berlo.
St Kilda: J Gram A Schneider S Milne R Harvey L Ball S King L Hayes.
Adelaide: G Johncock K Tippett N van Berlo B Rutten J Porplyzia B Symes.
Michael Tuck medallist: J Gram (St Kilda)
Umpires: M Vozzo D Margetts B Rosebury.
Crowd: 26,823 at AAMI Stadium.
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