St Kilda forward Stephen Milne says the Dockers are playing “pretty good footy” under new coach Ross Lyon.

Lyon returned to face the Saints for the first time since his sensational walkout on the club last September to join Fremantle, with the Dockers holding off the Saints to win by 13 points at Etihad Stadium.

After a big build-up in the media, Saints fans among the crowd of 30,172 responded with plenty of boos and taunts.

The 176cm Milne threw himself into the fray, clashing several times with former Saint Zac Dawson, who played in defence for Fremantle.

Milne, who was held to only one goal by Adam McPhee, attempted to paint the grudge match as just another game.

“You (media) guys pumped that up, Ross changing clubs, which is obvious,” a dead-pan Milne said.

“There was no more hype than any other week.

“(Dawson) went to Freo and it was just like any other opponent.

“It (their on-field clash) was just say ‘G’day’ and ‘How have you been’ and that’s about it. It was pretty heated out there. Their pressure was pretty good.

“It was probably the most heated one this year. They’re playing some pretty good footy under Ross and so are we.”

St Kilda won the inside-50s 56-44 and the clearances 43-30, despite Fremantle’s Aaron Sandilands dominating the hitouts with 44 taps.

Lyon was happy to play the sideshow act, as Stephen Hill led a tough Dockers victory with a blistering second half.

While the 14.8 (92) to 11.13 (79) win will be hard to take for Saints fans still angry over Lyon’s decision to walk out on the club last September, Lyon says he has moved on from the drama and is more intent on building Fremantle’s self-belief.

It was Fremantle’s first win in Melbourne for almost two years and broke an eight-game losing streak against the Saints.

Lyon praised the role played by Ryan Crowley on key Saints midfielder Nick Dal Santo (18 possessions) and Adam McPhee’s effort to hold dangerous small forward Stephen Milne to one goal and nine disposals.

“Adam did a good job on an incredibly dangerous player,” Lyon said.

“Ryan Crowley, he’s dog-hungry. He really needed to work hard on one of their better ball-users.”

Lyon says it will be a huge challenge for his side against Carlton on Friday night in Perth, although the Dockers are set to be boosted by the return of utility Nat Fyfe.

Fyfe was a late withdrawal from the St Kilda match after his shoulder popped out during last week’s win against Brisbane.

“The surgeon said he could play, but if he waits one week the percentage chances will be greatly in favour of him getting through the season,” Lyon said.

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