St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has described it as “some work to do” as he contemplated a frustrating trip home from far north Queensland after a one-point AFL loss to Port Adelaide.
The wayward Saints had more than enough chances to put the contest out of reach long before Power forward Robbie Gray’s hurried shot on the run from near the boundary line provided the winning behind deep inside the last frantic minute on a wet and slippery Saturday night in Cairns.
Ratten is well aware his team can’t afford to squander so many deep entries into attack when they face undefeated AFL ladder leaders Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.
It was the one-that-got-away after St Kilda posted 3.3 by early in the second quarter and then managed a staggering 1.15 for the rest of a game which they led for 97 minutes until a persistent Power edged ahead.
“We had our opportunities, there’s no doubt about it. Sixty-one inside 50s, won the tackles, won the pressure count and when you have 21 clanger kicks and don’t finish your work, that was the big thing for us,” Ratten said.
“We won enough of the ball, we just didn’t use it as well as we could and across the board we just didn’t finish our work and that hurt us.
“We’ve got some work to do there, but our effort and the way we went about it was pretty encouraging.”
While the soap-like ball and greasy conditions after heavy rain at Cazalys Stadium certainly didn’t suit a tall, marking forward like Max King, the fact remains the young spearhead missed chances to ice the game for the Saints.
King’s first major was from the goalline after a 50m penalty in the opening minutes, while his second from a mark 30m out right in front early in the third quarter broke a run of 10 consecutive behinds for the frustrated Saints.
But another miss from a free kick 20m out dead in front late in the third term came after Gray, in contrast, had steered through two set shots to kick-start Port Adelaide’s challenge.
Understandably, Ratten was loath to point the finger at any of his players in the wake of such a cruel loss.
“We probably didn’t have the opportunity to kick the ball as well as we would’ve liked to him as well,” he said.
“There’s aspects of Max’s game that we push him to do a bit more as well.
“It will be a good learning game for Max, he’s a quality player. It wasn’t the day where we could lace him out (with perfect passes).”
The Saints will regain ruckman Rowan Marshall for the clash with the Demons.