AFL decider will be brutal: Lyon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL decider will be brutal: Lyon

By Sam Lienert 23/09/2009 05:19:43 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon expects an AFL grand final marked by bloodshed and brutality when the season's two best teams square off at the MCG on Saturday.

Lyon said with all the vital statistics suggesting the Saints and Geelong were evenly matched and their previous meeting this season decided by a single kick, they would throw everything at each other.

"We're both top four defence, top four attack, contested ball difference in the top two or three, so over the journey of this season they're pretty evenly matched teams," Lyon said.

"It's going to be close, it's going to be tough, it's going to be brutal, there's going to be blood rules, there's going to be big collisions, that's the way it's going to be played."

In their past two finals, the Saints have kept both Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs to seven goals each.

But Lyon said he would be happy to keep the Cats to 12.

"They're a prolific team, aren't they," he said.

"I think both teams kicked 14 goals in the round 14 clash (Geelong kicked 13) and I think (it will be) something along those lines."

Geelong coach Mark Thompson said cracking the Saints' miserly defence, which has conceded an average of just 63 points per game this year, would be the big challenge.

"They've definitely been the best team, they've had the best defence," he said.

"I don't think anyone's been stingier as far as points against in the competition for some time, so that's certainly their strength.

"They play as a team, they've got great unity, they play contested ball, they're all very similar things to what we do."

Thompson said the two key players Geelong needed to stop were Saints captain Nick Riewoldt and vice-captain Lenny Hayes.

Riewoldt has been a match-winner in the Saints' previous two finals, with five goals against Collingwood and four against the Dogs, while the fearless Hayes topped 30 disposals in each match.

Thompson has earmarked Harry Taylor as Riewoldt's likely first-choice opponent and said there would be no rough-house tactics to restrict his influence.

"We're just going to try to play him on his merits," he said.

"Hopefully he doesn't kick too many goals, he's a superstar of the competition.

"Him and Lenny Hayes are probably the two most important players from our part that we have to watch out for."

Both coaches face agonising selection decisions on Thursday.

There appears slim hope of popular veteran Saints key defender Max Hudghton earning a recall, although Lyon said the Cats' array of tall forwards gave him a chance.

Thompson must decide whether to reinstate small forward Mathew Stokes, fully fit after a groin injury, and if so who to omit from the preliminary final side that thrashed Collingwood.

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