Saints hang on, beat Swans by two - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints hang on, beat Swans by two

By Roger Vaughan 22/03/2008 11:06:43 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda held on grimly to beat Sydney by two points in a grinding AFL contest at Telstra Dome.

A shot on the run by Swan Jarred Moore with less than two minutes left narrowly missed and the Saints then held out to win 6.15 (51) to 6.13 (49).

The highlight of the match was an outstanding moment of courage from Saints second-year player Clinton Jones in the third term, which led to a vital goal.

After Moore's behind, the Saints kicked in and were given a free kick on the half-back flank, with a 50m penalty ensuring they would close out the match.

A few minutes earlier, former Swan Adam Schneider had the mark in the middle of the ground, but took too long with his kick.

Sydney forward Barry Hall ran him down from behind and passed to Nick Davis, whose shot at goal did not make the distance.

Reflecting the dour nature of the match, the two sides took a combined total of just 12 contested marks and 213 uncontested grabs.

Saints key forwards Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke were the only multiple goalscorers with two apiece.

Nick Dal Santo was best for St Kilda and young Swans Kieren Jack was also very impressive.

The Saints beat the Swans at their own game early, "out-flooding" Sydney to lead by 20 points at quarter-time.

But Sydney then stopped St Kilda's momentum and then turned the match into the sort of tight, physical contest that is their specialty.

Jones, who bears a resemblance to Riewoldt with his snow-white hairdo, lifted the Saints with the sort of courageous act that has come to define Riewoldt's career.

Jones kept his eyes on a high ball into the Saints' attack and was rewarded with the mark after he crunched into Swans midfielder Martin Mattner.

Jones then handballed to Schneider, playing his first game for the Saints, who goalled to put St Kilda two goals up at 23 minutes into the third quarter.

The Saints had two late changes, leaving out full-forward Fraser Gehrig and Jason Blake for Leigh Fisher.

St Kilda won despite scoring no goals in the second and last terms.

Saints coach Ross Lyon heaped praise on Jones for his mark and also praised first-gamer Jarryn Geary for his hard work in defence.

"It's as courageous an effort as you'll see, (and) for a player under 20 games, it was really good," Lyon said of Jones.

Lyon said the Saints did "win ugly" and was unsure how to view the match, given the two teams made plenty of errors and St Kilda blew their early lead.

But after winning the NAB Cup, St Kilda have a win on the board early.

"The fans would have liked the contest, but the ball use was really quite poor," he said.

"Everyone fatigued late, heavily, there was a lot of cramping on both sides.

"If I've got my smiley face on, I will take the first quarter, if I've got my grumpy hat on, I will focus on the last, the second and the third.

"At the minute, we're not sure if the glass is half full or half empty, but there's a lot to like about our summer and a round-one win, really."

When asked about the "half-full, half-empty" comments of his former assistant, Sydney coach Paul Roos joked "I will take his glass".

"There are obviously some areas that both teams are going to improve in, it's round one, both teams are going to get a lot better than that."

Roos coached from the boundary line, as he had done throughout the pre-season, and he said either himself or assistant John Longmire would continue to do so.

"Particularly when it's close towards the end, it's a lot easier to work your match-ups and see who looks fresh or who doesn't look fresh," Roos said.

"You probably feel a little bit more in control of the game."

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