Saints into finals after beating Crows - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints into finals after beating Crows

By Sam Lienert 24/08/2008 07:28:54 PM Comments (0)

The esteem in which St Kilda's Robert Harvey is held was obvious in the pre-game guard of honour staged by a host of former team-mates and the roar of the Saints faithful whenever he touched the ball at Telstra Dome.

But it was the opportunity granted for one last tilt at a premiership - earned by the 13.17 (95) to 6.11 (47) victory over Adelaide in Harvey's last regular season home game - that was most significant.

About half of the 210 men who played with Harvey over his 21 seasons welcome him onto the field, accompanied by his three children.

But for the first 15 minutes or so it appeared Adelaide would turn the Saints' celebrations sour and place their finals bid in jeopardy.

With Harvey starting on the bench, the Crows had two goals on the board inside the first four minutes and another at 13 minutes to build a 19-point lead.

Such was their early domination, they could easily have been further in front.

But the tide started to turn late in the first term, as St Kilda lifted their intensity in the midfield, Harvey setting up skipper Nick Riewoldt for their opening goal.

The Saints added two more early in the second term to edge closer before Harvey put them in front for the first time, 18 minutes into the second quarter, with a goal from a free kick.

It prompted a huge ovation from the pro-Saints crowd and seemingly inspired his teammates, St Kilda adding three more majors in a five-minute burst to take a 19-point half-time lead.

While coach Ross Lyon said his players were at pains not to focus on the emotion surrounding Harvey, he acknowledged its positive effect.

"When the crowd was roaring for Robert (it made it) a really difficult day for the opposition, I would imagine," Lyon said.

"... It is a powerful effect on teams, there's no doubt about that and in that context it was always going to be difficult for whoever we played today."

The sides kicked two goals each in a scrappy third quarter, before the Saints blasted away with four quick goals to start the last.

Harvey said he was astonished by the number of former team-mates who turned out to acknowledge his long and decorated career.

"We didn't have anyone in the rooms before the game just to keep it pretty normal and when I ran out it really smacked me in the face a bit just to see all those guys there," he said.

"I suppose I didn't expect that they'd get so many here, they must be spread pretty far and wide now."

He was also amazed by the intensity of support from fans.

"The most important thing is that we delivered to the fans, that we played good footy, but it meant a lot and it's something I'll look back on, a bit like my 350th," he said.

"It was a really proud day and I had a lot of family here, a lot of friends and it was great, the fans have always been fantastic to me."

With the Saints' form building ahead of what is now a certain finals campaign, Harvey was hopeful there might be some even more memorable moments to come.

"Obviously I'd like to go out playing as many games as I can and I still feel like we can do something (in the finals)," he said.

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