Saints, North face crucial showdown - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints, North face crucial showdown

Guy Hand and Adrian Warren 21/08/2011 07:38:35 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has backed his players to rise to a challenge of their own making - a virtual AFL elimination final against North Melbourne next weekend.

The Saints' final quarter fadeout for an eventual 15-point loss to Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Sunday left last year's grand finalists dangling by a thread at the fringe of the top eight, when they looked on course to secure their finals spot.

Instead, the Saints now face ninth-placed North - who hammered Fremantle by 98 points on Saturday - in a match which could effectively decide the top eight and whether they are a part of it.

Saints coach Ross Lyon was upset by his midfield's performance, with the Swans smashing the visitors at stoppages at crucial times.

But he defiantly said "let's get it on" when confronted with what his sixth-placed team now face.

They have the toughest run home of those still uncertain of their top-eight place with North and Carlton their remaining opponents.

"There's an opportunity for us and North Melbourne and at the end of the day you've got to get it done," Lyon said.

"So let's all roll up to Etihad Stadium Saturday night and let's get it on.

"Let's see where we're at. You're either good enough or you're not, so I'll back my group in and let's see how we go."

Lyon lamented his midfield's effort against the inaccurate Swans in the 10.23 (83) to 10.8 (68) defeat.

"In a nutshell we got annihilated at clearances and inside. The game is won and lost there ... our midfield got obliterated."

North finished off Fremantle's finals hopes with their 21.17 (143) to 6.8 (44) win at Etihad Stadium, and look the only side outside the current top eight who can force their way in.

But they must win their remaining two matches against the Saints and Richmond, and hope for other results to go their way.

Wooden spoon certainties Port Adelaide continue to plumb new depths.

They were beaten by 60 points by the Western Bulldogs at AAMI Stadium on Sunday - a marked improvement scorewise on previous weeks but still well below standard.

The Bulldogs gave caretaker coach Paul Williams, who replaced Rodney Eade midweek, the perfect start to his career with the 24.13 (157) to 15.7 (97) win.

Dogs forward Barry Hall continued his late career resurgence with a six-goal haul - his fifth consecutive five-goal-plus match.

West Coast moved into the box seat to finish in the top four with a 57-point win over Essendon on Saturday, coupled with Carlton's Friday night loss to Hawthorn which dropped the Blues to fifth.

Collingwood were given a scare by Brisbane at the MCG on Saturday night, but still picked up an 18-point victory to move a win clear of Geelong atop the table.

The Cats had the weekend's bye.

Adelaide midfielder Scott Thompson picked up a near-record 51 disposals in his side's 61-point trouncing of Gold Coast - falling just two possessions short of Greg williams' long-standing mark.

In the other match, Richmond strung together consecutive wins with a seven-point triumph over Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.

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