Ross Lyon 1, Fremantle 0.
Lyon has had the perfect start to life as St Kilda coach by leading the Saints to a 10.7 (67) to 7.10 (52) win over his former club at Marvel Stadium.
It was a day that reminded everyone of Lyon’s skill as a coach and one that wrote a script for other teams to follow when playing Fremantle.
If you’d said a game involving Lyon would be a battle between control and chaos, you’d assume Lyon would be coaching the control side of things. But this was the opposite.
Fremantle played the conservative footy whereas St Kilda attacked, and that style won the day.
The trend was evident early. The Dockers went to quarter time having had 22 more disposals than the Saints and 10 more marks but St Kilda led the inside-50s 15-11 and that produced an eight-point lead for the home team.
Fremantle took their time looking for avenues to move the ball carefully and the moment you allow a Ross Lyon teams to feel comfortable in defence, you’re falling into his trap.
The Saints lacked proven key forwards with Max King and Tim Membrey injured. But one thing the Saints can do is run. And that’s what they did. They ran with the ball, they ran without the ball and they created opportunities.
Fremantle showed more of a desire to attack during the second term and reaped the benefits. They had some luck with two goals from 50m penalties and a third from a free kick on the half-time siren, but they made their own luck by taking the game on more. It put St Kilda under pressure.
Scores were level at half-time and Fremantle led by six points with one quarter to play.
But St Kilda always looked the more likely team to take the game on.
They opened the final quarter with three quick goals, added a fourth moments later and that won them the match. Fremantle didn’t manage a goal in the last quarter.
Fremantle’s defence did a power of work. Brennan Cox took 20 marks and the combination of him, Luke Ryan, Hayden Young and Jordan Clark combined for 123 possessions.
The leading possession winners were all in the back half and that told the story of how the game was played.
Fremantle’s forwards battled to have an impact. Fyfe managed only nine disposal and one behind. Matt Taberner was subbed out after one goal and nine touches as Freo searched for run. Josh Treacy had three possessions and one goal.
The Saints and Dockers entered the season with totally different levels of expectations but the only thing that counted was the style of play and intensity on the field. St Kilda set the standard.