The Saints left much to be desired in 2022. With key players ruled out before the first game of the season had even begun, it always looked like St Kilda would be in for a long ten rounds.

Captain Hannah Priest performed admirably in an up and down season, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd emerged as a genuine star of the club. Tarni White showed her worth in the centre, playing all games bar one through suspension.

Finally claiming a win in Round 8, the Saints could do little to turn their season around and finished in 13th position but got plenty of game time and development into their stars of the future.

Season Finish: 13th
Record: 2-8

2022 Season snapshot

The Saints never really got going throughout 2022, finishing the season with just two wins to their name and in 13th position, a percentage of 53.1 exemplifying their poor form throughout much of the ten rounds.

A lowlight was Round 7's match against Carlton, where the Saints were held to just two points throughout the game, a new equal-low AFLW score. The season wasn't full of negatives though, seven losses to start the year was less than ideal, but three of those were by a margin of five points or less.

A breakthrough win came in Round 8 against Gold Coast by just three points, with a nine-point win against Geelong the following week finally giving the club some pay off in a season of close losses.

With star players Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios both confined to the sidelines prior to the season beginning, and with first year coach Nick Dal Santo taking the reins, 2022 always looked like an uphill battle for the Saints, an accurate assumption by the time the season drew to a close.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Darcy Guttridge of the Saints looks dejected after a loss during the 2021 AFLW Round 03 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Carlton Blues at RSEA Park on February 13, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Star player: Tilly Lucas-Rodd

In the absence of Smith and Patrikios, Lucas-Rodd stepped up to become a dominant force in the Saints midfield after making a seamless transition from defence. The 25-year-old enjoyed a career-best season, averaging 20 disposals, seven tackles and four clearances a game.

A runner up in St Kilda's best and fairest by just a single vote, Lucas-Rodd was awarded with selection in the 40-woman All-Australian squad for the first time in her career. The hardworking Saint also became just the fourth AFLW player to resister more than 10 disposals, clearances and tackles in a game during her dominant performance against Geelong in Round 9.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 19: Tilly Lucas-Rodd of the Saints looks on during the 2022 AFLW Round 07 match between the Carlton Blues and the St Kilda Saints at Ikon Park on February 19, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Breakout player: Tarni White

White shined in just her third season in the competition as she spent more time in the midfield under new coach Dal Santo. The 21-year-old played nine games throughout the season, missing one through suspension, earning herself a spot in the AFLW's 22-under-22 squad for the second consecutive season.

A hardworking ball winner, White averaged 13 possessions and seven tackles a game as she emerged as a crucial cog in a new look Saints midfield. Finishing the season second club-wide in the clearances and tackles stats, White's development in the centre this season looked to be one of the highlights for the Saints.

The 21-year-old managed her best finish in St Kilda's best and fairest count, finishing sixth with 19 votes.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Tarni White of the Saints kicks the ball during the round six AFLW match between the St Kilda Saints and the Brisbane Lions at RSEA Park on February 13, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)


End of season form 

The back end of the St Kilda's season seemed to hold more positives than the first half. The opening three rounds of the season saw the Saints lose by a combined 106 points and look for the most part, uncompetitive.

In the last month of the season however, the Saints won two matches, endured a controversial two-point loss against the Giants and fell to minor premiers Adelaide by 39 points.

The side looked more competitive and confident, finally finding a rhythm under the leadership of Dal Santo. Heading into next season, hopefully with key players rejoining the side and potentially less affected by the coup of players sought by expansion teams, the Saints will finally be able to click and begin that long journey up the ladder.



Forward 50 opportunities and disposal efficiency 

Tight losses hurt the Saints, who finished in second last position with two wins despite glimpses of form throughout the year. There were issues around the ground - the midfield was understrength and under pressure, while the backline held up admirably under the steady guise of Hannah Priest and Bianca Jakobsson, but inside the forward 50 was where things went the most astray for St Kilda.

Perhaps the biggest issue to plague the Saints was their disposal efficiency. Accuracy around the ground (51.9%) left plenty to be desired for fans of the red, black and white but particularly worrisome for St Kilda was their conversion in front of goal. At the conclusion of the season the Saints had a goal efficiency of just 11.8%, an unfortunate statistic for a team who lost three games of a ten game season by five points or less.

The usually reliable Caitlin Greiser had a quiet year, kicking just four goals as the Saints' main imposing forward target. While those in the midfield, like the aforementioned White, managed to stream forward but had little real impact on the scoreboard.

With another pre-season under their belt heading into season seven, the Saints will be hoping to tidy up their disposal around the ground or be content lamenting on the lower rungs of the ladder for yet another season.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: Caitlin Greiser of the Saints in action during the 2021 AFLW Round 01 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Western Bulldogs at RSEA Park on January 29, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Season Grade: D-

The Saints showed glimpses of promise throughout the season, but these moments were fleeting. Had some umpiring decisions gone differently, St Kilda may well be a much better team on the win-loss tally, but unfortunately poor disposal and a lack of A-grade talent cost the club in the end.