St Kilda upset the odds to beat Fremantle 10.7 (67) to 7.10 (52) and give returning coach Ross Lyon a dream start to the new AFL season. Lyon couldn’t have wished for a better start to his second stint as a Saints’ coach than the shock 15-point triumph over his former team. The fact he did it with many of his players unavailable due to injury made the win even better.
Injury-Hit Saints Surged in the Final Term
The Saints were heavy underdogs going into the match against the semi-finalists from last season, with at least six of their best players out injured. So, the best coach Lyon could have hoped for was to set up the team for a scrappy game and stay in the contest for as long as possible. And so he did.
Neither the Saints nor the Dockers were more than two goals ahead until the last quarter of the game. That’s when St Kilda posted 4.1 to Fremantle’s 0.4, with Mason Wood, Zaine Cordy, and Jade Gresham making the difference.
With many people questioning the Saints’ ability to score without Tim Membrey and Max King in the side, Wood, Gresham, Cordy, and Mitch Owens demonstrated they were up to the task of replacing St Kilda’s key forwards.
Wood, Gresham, and Owens scored two majors, and Cordy, Jack Bytel, Jack Higgins, and Mattaes Phillipou pitched in with one major each.
Lachie Schultz was the only player to score two for Fremantle, while superstar Nat Fyfe, who turned up to the airport in style, had a miserable match and went goalless.
Saints Are Rock-Hard Fit Says Coach
Ross Lyon was delighted to have masterminded a victory over his former side. Lyon said there was “no magic” and that it was “all about unrelenting action” which is not surprising as he is known as someone who values hard work over anything else, including skill.
The Saints coach was pleased with his players, saying he “couldn’t have asked for more” from them, especially in terms of attitude. St Kilda changed a lot of things during the summer, so Lyon thought it was great that the group worked really hard and got rewarded.
The coach said that the 22 players he picked did every minute of pre-season. So, he was sure they were “rock-hard fit.” That was really important for Lyon as their game style was “an up-tempo run and work game style.” But as the coach noted, that was already evident for everyone who watched the game.