Preliminary dogfight helps Saints: Lyon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Preliminary dogfight helps Saints: Lyon

22/09/2009 07:53:29 PM Comments (0)

Much like Geelong two years ago, St Kilda's near-calamity in their AFL preliminary final might be the shock that charges their premiership campaign.

St Kilda reached Saturday's grand final with a hard-fought seven-point win on Friday night over the Western Bulldogs.

Had the Bulldogs kicked straighter and not suffered from some crucial umpiring decisions that went against them, this would have been a very bad week for the Saints.

A day after the minor premiers won, their main rivals Geelong cruised through the last term as they crushed Collingwood by 73 points.

The contrasting natures of their wins prompted punters to jump off the Saints in favour of the Cats.

Geelong are now at $1.60 according to TAB Sportsbet, with the Saints at $2.30.

In 2007, the Cats only beat Collingwood by a kick in their preliminary final, before belting Port Adelaide by a record margin of 119 points.

For all the nervousness of Friday night, Saints coach Ross Lyon saw some good signs as his team played well below their best, yet still won.

Lyon said he would only know this Saturday night how the close, tight game had affected the Saints.

"It's all conjecture, no-one is going to know, are we? It's going to be hindsight," he said.

"But certainly, to be involved in a tough one, we don't think it's done us any harm - (it brings) a real competitive edge back to us.

"The longer it went, the better we got - so they were good signs."

St Kilda had their only open training session of the week on Tuesday at Moorabbin, with about 10,000 fans packing the old home ground.

Lyon said it was too early to say whether players such as fan favourite Max Hudghton, Sean Dempster, James Gwilt or Jarryn Geary would force their way into the team.

But he added they had a settled team.

Hudghton has managed only seven games this season and looms as the biggest hard-luck story for the Saints.

Vice-captain Lenny Hayes said the key defender was handling the situation well.

"He's been really good, he's the same as most other guys, he's just focussing on this session, he'll train a couple of times this week and be available," Hayes said.

"We'll just have to wait and see what happens."

The Saints will train again at Moorabbin in a supposed closed session, on a ground that is very open because of redevelopment work.

In a league where subterfuge is always rife, Lyon has faith that the Cats will abide by the Saints' wishes.

"I don't see any point of difference, it's round 26, to be frank," he said.

"I'm sure all you guys (media) will respect it, there will be no helicopters over the top, the fans will certainly respect it ... and Geelong and St Kilda, I'm sure we have mutual respect."

Lyon is also unconcerned about forecasts of showers for Saturday's big game.

"The way we play, we have a game style that stands up - we talk about anywhere, anytime, any conditions, as do Geelong," he said.

Meanwhile, Cats coach Mark Thompson said he was still undecided on the make-up of Geelong's team, with Mathew Stokes now fully fit after missing the preliminary final through injury.

"Mathew Stokes does deserve to play, not that he's guaranteed to play, but if he does happen to come in, the guy who goes out probably deserves to play too," he said.

"That's our responsibility, so we might have to make a hard decision."

He joked that it would make his life easier if someone was injured at training.

"We might have to come up with a drill that maybe injures someone, that's what we used to do in the '80s when I was playing at the Bombers," Thompson said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news