The Tigers remain winless at the foot of Conference A and will hope skipper Katie Brennan returns soon. She has missed two matches because of concussion.
A chilly breeze meant there was one scoring end and the Saints, now with two wins in their debut season, made the most of this in the opening and third terms. The Tigers had only one inside 50 into the breeze in two quarters.
The Saints generated run through the likes of Claudia Whitfort, who was dominant at the stoppages, Georgia Patrikios and Rosie Dillon, while co-captain Kate Shierlaw delivered the game-breaking goal in the third term. The Tigers’ pressure fell away, with too much left to Monique Conti. Grace Campbell battled hard but missed a late set shot for goal.
It’s been a tough initiation for the Tigers but Conti has shown why she will be a dominant player for many years ahead. The dual sports star – she also plays with the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL – has been averaging 19 touches per game. Her ball use is also excellent, and there was a slick two-handed pick up on the wing in the second term against the Saints that reinforced why she is one of the league’s smooth movers.
Conti had 12 disposals to half-time – seven more than her next-best teammate. Another dual star, Gabrielle Seymour, the former Australian junior volleyballer, has quickly made a name for herself at half-back.
Greiser made her presence felt in the first term by booting the Saints’ opening two goals. The first, from about 15 metres, came from a free kick but the second, from a strong mark in front of two defenders, showed why the Saints have been raving about her. She duly converted from 30m out from goal. Greiser’s talent has been obvious – she was named in the VFLW team of the year – and she could yet make the AFLW squad should she finish the season strongly.
The impact of the coronavirus was on show when only players, required staff and media were allowed into the venue. The Saints had enjoyed strong support at home in their inaugural season.
“It is a bit sad that family and friends can’t be here,” Saints coach Peta Searle said.
“It’s pretty weird not to have even family,” Saint Cath Phillips added.
AFLW chief Nicole Livingstone was one of few in the crowd.
“It is eerie, we can hear the commentators on the side of the oval. It is unusual,” she said on Fox Footy.
Livingstone said the AFL was planning for even a doomsday scenario should the season have to be halted.
In a sign of the times, the two captains did not shake hands at the toss of the coin, while players gave “elbow taps” to their opponents after the final siren.
Best: St Kilda: Greiser, Whitfort, Patrikios, Vesely. Richmond: Conti, Makur Chuot, Campbell
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.