Saints into finals as GWS 'lose respect'

Giant Jeremy Cameron (l) and the Saints' Rowan Marshall contest the ball in Friday's AFL clash.
Giant Jeremy Cameron (l) and the Saints' Rowan Marshall contest the ball in Friday's AFL clash.

Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron admits his team must win back the respect the football public after a horror loss to St Kilda ended their finals hopes and granted Saints their first post-season action in nine years.

St Kilda beat a wayward GWS by 52 points at the Gabba on Friday, last year's grand finalists now certain to finish outside the top eight as their last-gasp attempt ended with barely a whimper.

The 12.10 (82) to 3.12 (30) Gabba win shot the Saints to sixth on the live ladder and ensured a finals return for a proud Brett Ratten in the former Carlton coach's his first year in charge.

Conversely, Cameron was forced to admit the club had lost the ground it made up after qualifying for last year's grand final.

"Our players need to understand you can't have four really hard years of work then serve up that for most of the year," he said.

"We clearly have to regain the respect of the footy public, because we lost it probably in six months."

Former Giant Jack Steele did the hard yards early, finishing with 14 contested possessions, 10 clearances, seven tackles and two goals.

Needing to win big to have any chance of finishing in the top eight, the Giants had their chances in a 1.5 first quarter.

Toby Greene and Jack Riccardi goals made it a three-point game approaching half-time but they didn't kick another after the break and their opponents began to queue up.

Rowan Marshall took six marks in a dominant third quarter while Ben Paton kept Greene to just 12 disposals and veteran Dan Hannebery was solid in his injury return.

Not since 2011 have St Kilda played finals but they will finish sixth unless Collingwood beat Port Adelaide in Monday's final regular-season game.

"We've played some alright footy in the last month, but not four quarters and I thought tonight was pretty close to that," Ratten said.

"You set the bar at the start of year to say you want to play finals, but it's not the destination.

"For our supporters to sit back tonight and have a smile on their face and say we got there ... it's really pleasing for them."

Cameron admitted he couldn't argue that last year's grand final flop didn't contribute to their 2020 failings.

"Where do you start; it's one big disappointing season really, didn't get going at all," Cameron said.

"I'd be disappointed that, 12 months ago, a game had an impact on several of our performances this year.

"But I can't sit here and argue ... the proof's in the pudding and we didn't fire much of a shot this year."

They were dealt an early blow when Matt de Boer (back) was a late scratching, the tagger replaced by Isaac Cumming.

Recalled after being controversially dropped last week, captain Stephen Coniglio had 23 disposals for the Giants.

Australian Associated Press