St Kilda have given Lenny Hayes the perfect AFL retirement present with a staggering 58-point win over Fremantle.
Led by veterans Nick Riewoldt and Hayes, St Kilda won 17.16 (118) to 9.6 (60) and severely damaged the Dockers’ top-two ambitions in one of the upsets of the season.
Such was the damage inflicted, Fremantle fell to third on the ladder with a nine per cent drop.
There was no form line to predict this, St Kilda entering with 11 straight losses and Fremantle eight wins in a row.
But the bottom-of-the-ladder Saints threw away the form guide, playing with a flair and purpose the Dockers could not match.
Without the skills of their more-fancied opponents, the Saints simply out-ran, out-kicked and out-marked the Dockers.
Shane Savage had his best game for the club, while Riewoldt and Rhys Stanley dominated the air and shared seven goals.
When Riewoldt’s opening goal was followed up with three in a row from St Kilda, eyebrows were raised.
The upset was on and Dockers coach Ross Lyon knew it, arriving early to the boundary line for quarter-time to try to fix it.
Without Aaron Sandilands, Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Walters and Stephen Hill, Fremantle had no enterprise or intensity.
Two second-quarter efforts typified their day.
Colin Sylvia, bereft of confidence, opted for Matthew Pavlich in the pocket instead of shooting.
The veteran forward was found wanting in the wrong pocket, trying a checkside with his right that drifted out on the full.
Then in the half’s dying moments, Zac Dawson showed no effort to get back on the mark, gifting Rhys Stanley a 50-metre penalty to bring him within range.
Stanley drilled his third for the half from 52 metres, allowing Riewoldt to lead his team into the rooms 40 points ahead and full of purpose.
The battering continued after halftime, with a purposeless Fremantle unable to clear their defensive 50 as St Kilda took shot after shot.
Farren Ray thumped two goals in a minute as the Saints pushed their lead past 10 goals.
This was Christmas for St Kilda, with Luke Dunstan putting them past 100 for the first time this season.
They finished with 17 goals, their highest tally and best win under coach Alan Richardson.
The victory was all the more impressive after losing Sean Dempster to a shocking concussion just three minutes into the game.
Despite leaving the match on a stretcher, Dempster was up and walking in the St Kilda rooms shortly after.