Highlights: St Kilda v Sydney
The Saints and Swans clash in round 5
Shane Mumford and Justin Koschitzke do battle in the ruck on Thursday night
THE SYDNEY Swans have moved back closer to the type of football they're renowned for, with a hard-fought and hugely contested 16-point win over a valiant St Kilda in New Zealand on Thursday night.
A festive crowd of 22,546 at Wellington's Westpac Stadium watched the Swans weather a spirited early Saints assault then a late charge to win 11.13 (79) to 9.9 (63) and claim the newly-cast Simpson-Henderson Trophy.
Five talking points: St Kilda v Sydney Swans
Swans coach John Longmire agreed there were aspects of their performance that were close to the type of football they wanted to play, with the team recording 89 tackles to the Saints' 97.
"It was good to get the 90 tackles and to start doing some of that real hard grunt work, which was important for us," Longmire said.
"To lock the opposition up at certain times was useful when they had the momentum and we were able to then get it back.
Click here to vote for the three best Sydney Swans players from this game
"The second and third quarters we kicked 6.10 and if we'd hit the scoreboard a bit more in those two quarters it might have made it easier in the end."
Dan Hannebery (30 disposals) won the Anzac Medal as the player best exemplifying the Anzac spirit, with fellow midfielders Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh and Luke Parker also strong contributors throughout, as the Swans climbed to a 4-1 record.I didn't know if he'd play: Longmire's doubts on Hannebery
The Saints, who fell to a 1-4 record and face another tough battle against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium next Friday night, started and ended the match impressively.
They kicked 2.1 to nothing in the first nine minutes, with Lenny Hayes (28 disposals, 11 clearances) on fire in the middle, Justin Koschitzke kicking the game's first goal in his first match of the season, and skipper Nick Riewoldt (13 marks, two goals) working hard and winning plenty of the ball.Pleased and confused: How Kiwis viewed the game
The Swans didn't even enter their attack until the nine-minute mark, when a St Kilda interchange infringement gifted Kennedy a free kick and 50m penalty, from which he kicked a goal.
But the Swans hit the front 25 minutes in when defender Ted Richards, Riewoldt's opponent, kicked a rare major.
The Saints briefly regained the lead when Riewoldt marked and kicked a goal early in the second quarter.
But the Swans' pressure began to tell as they kicked seven of the next 10 goals, with their majors coming much more easily than the Saints'.
Parker ended the third quarter with a clever snapped major and started the last term with another to put the Swans 29 points up and seemingly home.
But the Saints breathed some late life into the match when Jarryn Geary responded with a long-range goal, set up by Riewoldt, then a brilliant Jack Steven snap from a tight angle which narrowed the margin to 16 points at the 10-minute mark.
Leigh Montagna, who performed impressively, built the tension further 10 minutes later, kicking beautifully from a tight angle after being set up by a Hayes handball.
But a free kick to Shane Mumford for an infringement in the ruck 20m out set up the big Swans' ruckman for a straightforward goal, the last score of the match, to kill off the Saints' charge.Click here to vote for the three best St Kilda players from this game
Riewoldt was in vintage form. He ran Ted Richards ragged for a half before doing similar to Heath Grundy, and played a game that coach Scott Watters said "just reeked of one of the great captains".
"He knows he's got to lead a lot of our younger players and be a really strong role model," Watters said.
"Four or five kids came in and none of them look out of place."
Watters also said he was proud of his players and believed they would continue to move in the right direction if they kept playing the way they did, with debutants Brodie Murdoch and Josh Saunders, and third-gamer Nathan Wright, all showing good signs.
"I hate losing, we hate losing as a club, but I'm really proud of their efforts. And if they continue to give that, win, lose or draw, the club moves forward," he said.
"We want to stand for strong efforts, we want to stand for contested ball efforts like we saw tonight.
"If they're your values as a club, you've got a good club. We'll keep striving for that."
Josh Kennedy is tackled by Lenny Hayes and Ben McEvoy in Wellington. Photo: AFL Media
ST KILDA 3.1 5.3 6.6 9.9 (63)
SYDNEY SWANS 3.3 6.7 9.13 11.13 (79)
St Kilda: Riewoldt 2, Montagna 2, Koschitzke, Ross, Dennis-Lane, Geary, Steven,
Sydney Swans: McGlynn 2, Parker 2, Bolton, Kennedy, Richards, McVeigh, Jack, Goodes, Mumford
St Kilda: Riewoldt, Hayes, Steven Gilbert, Montagna
Sydney Swans: Hannebery, Parker, Kennedy, McVeigh, Jack, Bolton, Armstrong
St Kilda: Nil
Sydney Swans: Nil
St Kilda: Tom Lee subbed out for Josh Saunders in the third quarter
Sydney Swans: Andrejs Everitt subbed out for Lewis Jetta in the fourth quarter
Umpires: Nicholls, Wenn, Foot
Official crowd: 22,546 at Westpac Stadium
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs.