Lyon returns fire with Thompson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lyon returns fire with Thompson

By Roger Vaughan 31/08/2010 06:43:58 PM Comments (0)

Well before Steven Baker renews his fierce rivalry with Steve Johnson in Friday's AFL qualifying final, there's been some definite feeling between St Kilda and Geelong.

St Kilda's Ross Lyon reacted to Monday's comments from rival coach Mark Thompson about the need for the umpires to come down hard on any illegal tactics.

Lyon said on Tuesday he hoped the umpires would keep an eye on Geelong captain Cameron Ling and his tagging tactics in the midfield.

Asked whether he considered the finals to be a new season, Lyon replied: "it must be when `Bomber' (Thompson) is talking about umpires and getting free kicks early, there must be something on the game, mustn't it?

"I just hope the Ling rule is in and `Dal' (Nick Dal Santo) gets about five holds in the first quarter, that would be nice.

"There's certainly something different in the air, isn't there?"

Lyon had already declared on Sunday that any battle between St Kilda's Baker and Johnson would be a two-way street.

Baker can return this week from the nine-game suspension he received for several incidents involving Johnson when these two sides last met in round 13.

Lyon said his tough backman was "more likely than unlikely" to play against the Cats.

Baker broke a toe during his time off, putting him out of action for several days, but Lyon said the defender's fitness would not be an issue.

"Some players just have a natural fitness and they're unique athletes - that's why they succeed in an incredibly tough environment," Lyon said.

"It's just intrinsic and he (Baker) is one of those beasts." Lyon said it would be a matter of selection, with the Saints also set to regain Stephen Milne and Adam Schneider from injury.

Sam Fisher will play after hurting his leg in Saturday's loss to Adelaide.

St Kilda have not been as dominant as last year, when they lost an epic grand final to Geelong, but Lyon is talking up his team's chances.

"You don't have to be the best team all year, you've just got to play your best football in September," Lyon said.

"We've played all the top-four teams, played and beaten them at some point during the year, (also) basically everyone in the eight.

"We know our best is good enough, we know our game plan stands up, we're fit and available and we're really excited to be back here.

The Saints have endured plenty of challenges this year, on and off the field, but one of the biggest was captain Nick Riewoldt's hamstring injury.

Riewoldt and Lyon initially feared the key forward might not make it back this season.

But Riewoldt has regained top form ahead of the finals.

"I feel really good, there's no mental issue, there's no apprehension about my body," Riewoldt said.

Lyon paid credit to Riewoldt's ability to return to his best despite the hamstring surgery.

"I just think there have been some really good signs with Nick's football, particularly at ground level," he said.

"All facets of his game are back and he gets an opportunity to lead St Kilda again in September - when he went down in round three, I didn't think that was likely."

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