Saints too focused on Riewoldt: Lyon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints too focused on Riewoldt: Lyon

By Adam Cooper 02/08/2010 06:56:28 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon admits his team has become one-dimensional in attack and can no longer consider tapering training before the AFL finals.

Where Collingwood, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs have seemingly timed their run-ins to the finals perfectly, the Saints (third) are no certainties to earn the double chance following bad losses either side of the round-17 draw with Hawthorn.

Lyon on Monday reiterated his belief the Saints needed to improve urgently from last Friday night's defeat to Essendon, when the coach likened his side to a bottom-four team.

"If we don't improve our football we won't beat anyone, to be frank," he said.

St Kilda's worries start in attack, where their scoring rate has dropped in the past four games even though star forward Nick Riewoldt returned in round 15 from his serious hamstring injury.

The Saints have averaged 76 points a game in their past four matches, whereas the mean was 88 in the preceding four.

The scoring slump means St Kilda's attack is ranked 10th this season in points scored, whereas they were fourth last season.

The limited impact of forwards Justin Koschitzke, Stephen Milne, Adam Schneider and first-gamer Tom Lynch against the Bombers meant St Kilda's midfielders too often went to Riewoldt.

"Last year we scored a lot more," Lyon said.

"There were some well-documented reasons why that may have fallen away.

"But we were confident we'd improve in that and then with Nick coming back we thought it would (increase) again, but it's actually gone the other way.

"We feel we're going to Nick a fair bit, so we need to find a bit of balance with that, which is always an issue with big key forwards and balancing it up.

"We just want to get our competitive spirit and our run back and see where that takes us."

Koschitzke's struggles in attack prompted AFL great Leigh Matthews to call for the big man to be thrown into the ruck to get him into the game more.

"More and more, Koschitzke is looking too slow and cumbersome as a forward and is moving with the limited agility of most ruckmen," Matthews wrote on the AFL website.

"There must be serious consideration of speeding the Saints team up by including another runner, leaving out the second ruckman, and using Kosi as the back-up to Michael Gardiner."

St Kilda's concerns - which also include injuries to defenders Zac Dawson and Raph Clarke and the prospect of a revitalised Port Adelaide on Sunday - means they cannot ease off in training a month out from the finals.

Lyon's team effectively had the minor premiership stitched up this time a year ago, which allowed the Saints to taper their training in the month before the finals.

That is no longer an option given the Bulldogs (fourth) and Fremantle (fifth) are only half a game behind.

"We've got our backs to the wall fighting to try to hang on to third or fourth spot and the double chance," Lyon said.

Dawson will miss one, possibly two games because of a broken hand, while Clarke's season is over because of a hamstring tendon injury similar to the one Riewoldt suffered earlier this year.

Lyon said St Kilda expected a tough challenge against Port - the Power have won their past two games and beat the Saints in round five - and admitted some spots were in jeopardy.

"Everyone's always under pressure, no one's guaranteed and I've got responsibility to 40,000 members to make right decisions," he said.

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