Saints shut door on finals hopefuls - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints shut door on finals hopefuls

By Sam Lienert 24/08/2008 07:49:51 PM Comments (0)

The eight sides to contest the AFL finals are confirmed, with only their order to be decided, after St Kilda closed the door on the remaining challengers with a runaway victory over Adelaide.

St Kilda, the most vulnerable side in the eight entering the round, overcame a poor start to thrash the Crows 13.17 (95) to 6.11 (47) at Telstra Dome.

Saints coach Ross Lyon, into his first finals series as a senior coach, having led the club to ninth in his debut season in charge last year, said it was not a feat he could afford to stop and reflect on.

"I haven't really given it any thought at all, we've got round 22 to come (against Essendon)," Lyon said.

"It's obviously pleasing for the club but coaches tend to be so short-term, so we discussed after the game what we did well, what we need to improve.

"Obviously it's an important seven days to recover and we feel we really need to keep improving our football.

"That's what today was about against a really good opposition."

With Collingwood having defeated Sydney on Saturday night to also confirm their finals berth, it left ninth-placed Richmond and 10th-placed Brisbane too far off the pace to bridge the gap in next weekend's last home and away round.

Geelong, well clear in top spot, brushed off another challenger with a 17.13 (115) to 13.4 (82) victory over fourth-placed North Melbourne at Skilled Stadium today to again underline their clear premiership favouritism.

But the losses by Sydney and Adelaide mean the Kangaroos remain in the box seat to retain fourth spot and the double chance.

North need only beat 13th-placed Port Adelaide at the MCG next Saturday to wrap up fourth position, which would mean they would meet the Cats again in a qualifying final.

Second-placed Hawthorn, who thrashed West Coast 19.19 (133) to 9.8 (62) at Subiaco today, are assured of meeting the third-placed Western Bulldogs in the other qualifying final.

Collingwood climbed past Adelaide into fifth spot, with the help of a percentage boost against the Swans, and have the best chance of climbing into fourth spot should the 'Roos slip up against the Power.

If not, the Magpies and Crows can at least claim home elimination finals with victories next weekend.

Collingwood have the seemingly easier task, a clash with 14th-placed Fremantle at Subiaco on Friday night, while Adelaide meets the Bulldogs at AAMI Stadium on Saturday.

Crows coach Neil Craig said the chance to start the finals series at home was a significant motivator.

"it's an important prize to have, I still think home ground advantage exists in the competition, it's becoming less but it still exists," Craig said.

"There's that, plus it would be nice for us to be able to get it just from our own supporter base, for them to be able to see a home final."

Should either of Collingwood or Adelaide lose, the Saints can earn themselves a home final with a win over 12th-placed Essendon at Telstra Dome on Sunday.

The eighth-placed Swans, meanwhile, will be desperately trying to recapture some form against Brisbane at the SCG next Saturday night.

Saturday night's loss to the Magpies was their sixth in the past eight games.

It was also their sixth straight loss to Collingwood, who they will meet again in an elimination final on current standings.

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