A COMMUNICATION breakdown left Melbourne players believing they needed to kick another goal to beat St Kilda on Sunday despite pinching the lead with just 41 seconds on the clock.
Demons midfielder Bernie Vince said the club’s runner was delivering other messages when forward Jeremy Howe appeared to kick the sealer, meaning players still thought they were about four minutes away from snapping the club’s 20-game Etihad Stadium hoodoo.
Coach Paul Roos’ side now faces Geelong at Simonds Stadium, a venue it has saluted just once at since 1988.
Best-afield Vince, who shut down prime Saints onballer David Armitage, thought it was too early to save the game, while a clutch of errors following Howe’s goal gifted the Saints their 11th consecutive win against Melbourne.
After Howe’s set-shot, ruckman Max Gawn palmed the ball to the open side and youngster Jimmy Toumpas left veteran Leigh Montagna, who pounced on a lucky bounce and ran into an open goal to become the Saints’ hero.
The Dees started just five players in their defensive 50m, allowing space for the Saints as Jack Steven sharked the clearance and pounded the ball long.
But Vince on Monday said while a countdown clock on the scoreboard would have been nice, there was no reason to change tradition.
He said he was in “shock” when the siren sounded.
“There was 24 ½ minutes gone I think (when Howe goaled), so each quarter had gone over 30 minutes,” he said.
“You don’t sit there at a centre bounce going, ‘How many goals have been scored? How long are we going to add on here?’ you just play footy.
“Our runner was on the field delivering a couple of other messages apparently, so he couldn’t get off and back on in time.”
Howe’s major was the first of the final term.
“In an ideal world if there was 40 seconds to go things would have been a lot different,” Vince said.
Vince said he spoke to Toumpas after the match and said despite the Dees remaining in the bottom four after a 3-8 start there had been tangible improvement, notably from Toumpas and Jack Watts.
“I think we’ve got a good blend of coaches across the board now, we just need to start winning a few more games,” he said.