St Kilda veteran Leigh Montagna was simply killing time with his apparent showboating against Brisbane, coach Alan Richardson says.
The 33-year-old was all alone in the goal square during Sunday’s AFL win over the Lions at Etihad Stadium when he received a handball, paused and took a bounce before kicking an uncontested goal.
Montagna’s goal late in the fourth quarter put the Saints up by 16 points and they went on to claim a 14.23 (107) to 11.10 (76) victory.
It appeared at first glance that Montagna was taunting the Brisbane defenders but Richardson says he was assured otherwise.
“We spoke about it after the game. He was just trying to take up time, given that no one was closing from Brisbane,” Richardson said.
“Whilst we’d started to regain some ascendancy and some momentum, as a senior player he took it upon himself to say ‘I’m going to take a bit of time off’.”
Richardson initially appeared to react angrily in the coaching box and admitted he hadn’t been sure what Montagna was seeking to achieve.
But while he was uncomfortable with how he looked, Richardson said he would have no problem with a repeat performance.
“In the same scenario, he would do that again,” Richardson said.
“We didn’t like the look of almost being like a … I don’t know how to say ‘smart arse’ another way, so I’ve just said it. We just didn’t think it was a great look for the way we want to play but that was not his intent.”
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan wasn’t fazed by the gamesmanship, describing it as a legitimate tactic.
“Joey’s been a humble champion for a long time and I wouldn’t have thought there was anything more in that than him just being a smart player,” he said.
Montagna was one of St Kilda’s most damaging players in their 31-point win over the Lions, finishing with 30 disposals and seven inside-50s.
The Saints’ midfield could be bolstered for next week’s game against Collingwood with stars Jack Steven (punctured lung) and David Armitage (groin) both likely to be considered for selection.