Freo in a Thriller
ST KILDA 4.3 6.9 8.10 11.13 (79)
FREMANTLE 3.2 6.3 11.6 14.8 (92)
St Kilda: Koschitzke 3, Gilbert 2, McEvoy, Riewoldt, Dal Santo, Stanley, Cripps, Milne
Fremantle: Anthony 2, Clarke 2, Mayne 2, Mzungu 2, Crowley, Pavlich, Sandilands, De Boer, Pearce, Broughton
St Kilda: Hayes, Steven, Geary, Goddard, Koschitzke
Fremantle: Sandilands, Crowley, Barlow, Pearce, McPhee, Clarke
St Kilda: Nil
Fremantle: Fyfe (shoulder) replaced in selected side by Anthony
St Kilda: Jamie Cripps replaced Jack Newnes at three-quarter-time
Fremantle: Lachie Neale replaced Nick Suban in the third quarter
Umpires: Stevic, McInerney, Mollison
Official crowd: 30,172 at Etihad Stadium
Ross Lyon’s first game coaching against his old club has been a success, with Fremantle beating St Kilda by 13 points at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
Fremantle kicked 14. 8 (92) to the Saints’ 11.13 (79) to notch up their first win over St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
For such a hyped-up contest, the spectacle lacked polish. Turnovers, clangers and smothers were the order of the night for both teams in the first half but it was a slightly different story after the half-time break.
Speaking after the match, Lyon downplayed the significance of the meeting with his former club and said he took no personal pride in defeating the Saints.
“It was emotionally a tough night in some ways, but at the end of the day my players are hungry to be led, and I take that responsibility very seriously,” he said.
“I take no joy out of beating St Kilda football club other than getting the four points.”
For all the talk about Lyon returning to face his old team, the Saints seemed to save the most spite for former defender Zac Dawson.
Dawson, who was a part of St Kilda’s Grand Final years in 2009 and 2010, was the subject of some close physical scrutiny from his former teammates, particularly Stephen Milne, with whom he clashed several times.
Both teams started out by breaking past each other’s zones but Fremantle steadied in the second half and gained the ascendancy despite St Kilda’s midfield dominance.
Fremantle big man Aaron Sandilands dominated the ruck contests but the St Kilda midfield, particularly Lenny Hayes, sharked him well.
Hayes continued his steady improvement since returning from his long-term knee injury and finished the night with 30 possessions and nine clearances.
Lyon had clearly placed great importance on shutting down Nick Dal Santo, with Ryan Crowley more than up to the task on the star Saint.
Justin Koschitzke played one of his more impressive games up forward in recent seasons despite one or two brain-fades. He booted three goals for the game.
Eight minutes passed before the first goal of the final quarter came to Rhys Stanley after a free kick and a 50m penalty. Jamie Cripps, who had been substituted on at the start of the last quarter, followed soon after.
The Saints had all the momentum and the ball spent much of the quarter in their forward 50. The difference was Fremantle took advantage of their opportunities and goals to Clancee Pearce, Tendai Mzungu and finally Greg Broughton were enough to hold off the home team.
Saints coach Scott Watters lamented his team’s missed opportunities late in the match, saying they were the main reason his team couldn’t get over the line.
“I won’t name individual players because they’re working bloody hard but we had four different opportunities to kick goals easily,” Watters said.
“A little bit of composure and we would probably be sitting here with a different result. It’s not structural, it’s not technical and it’s not strategy. It’s finish.”