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Match report: Silky Swans carve up flat Saints

Highlights: St Kilda v Sydney The Saints and Swans clash in round nine
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 20: Nic Newman of the Swans is tackled by Maverick Weller of the Saints during the 2017 AFL round 09 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on May 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Nic Newman runs away from a Jack Steele tackle

SURGING Sydney hammered out another ominous warning, dismantling St Kilda's running game for a 50-point victory on Saturday afternoon at Etihad Stadium.

The hard-tackling Swans capitalised on the Saints' spate of horrendous turnovers, particularly in the back half, to storm to the 18.10 (118) to 10.8 (68) win. 

Full match coverage and stats

Sydney's third consecutive victory after its 0-6 start to the season was built on a collective commitment to stifle St Kilda's run and rebound, especially off half-back. And the Saints succumbed to relentless pressure to cough up possession regularly and concede goals in their vain bid for a fourth-straight win.

Sydney reaped the benefits of cleaner use of the ball, despite being beaten in the overall clearances, and the Swans shared the spoils with goals being kicked by 12 players. Lance Franklin was the main contributor with four, three in the last quarter, when the contest was effectively over.

Skipper Josh Kennedy and Jake Lloyd racked up 35 touches apiece, while Dan Hannebery had 30, booted two goals and laid seven tackles in a dominant performance.

Five talking points: St Kilda v Sydney

"We were really happy," coach John Longmire said about his side's intensity.

"There was a 15 minute patch in the third quarter that was as powerful, strong footy as we've played.

"We like the tackles, but if they're going to kick it under pressure, we like that, particularly a team that transfers the ball so well. We had pressure and speed in our forward half which is important for us."

The Swans specifically targeted in-form Saints onballer Jack Steven and returning young key forward Paddy McCartin with physical attention, even before the opening bounce.

Steven just kept hunting the ball in the packs and used his breakaway speed to collect possessions. McCartin worked hard but struggled after five games in the VFL and he kicked his only goal with three minutes left on the clock.

McCartin didn't deserve to shoulder all the blame as St Kilda's other tall targets, including Nick Riewoldt, scrounged only a handful of marks inside the forward 50 against Swans key defenders Heath Grundy and Lewis Melican. And Swans backmen Lloyd, Nick Smith and Callum Mills mopped up the ground balls.

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St Kilda's lone excuse was being restricted with interchange rotations for the last three quarters after midfielder Jack Newnes came off second best in a bone-jarring contest with Mills late in the opening term.

Newnes won't have fond memories of his 100th game – if he has any recollection at all. Club medicos ruled him out for the rest of the game with concussion after a long consultation in the dressing rooms.

Saints coach Alan Richardson was disappointed with his team's disposal which left his men constantly exposed.

"They were too good for us, they just outplayed us. It shouldn't have been that margin, but it was because we just butchered the footy," he said.

"Part of that was Sydney, but too often we had players that weren't under pressure and weren't ability to execute, whether that was rebound or entry. They scored too much from our own kick from the back and from our poor kick going inside 50. We hurt ourselves with our use (of the ball)." 

 

MEDICAL ROOM:
St Kilda: Jack Newnes left the field in the first quarter following a heavy collision with Swan Callum Mills inside St Kilda's forward 50. Newnes jogged off the field after the hit but failed a concussion test and was ruled out shortly after, but coach Alan Richardson said the wingman was "really likely" to play next week. There were some sore Saints at the final siren. Mav Weller (ankle) and Jade Gresham (winded) each spent time off the field before returning to see out the game.

 

Sydney: Harry Cunningham failed to return after leaving the field with a right foot injury late in the third quarter. Doctors strapped the foot during the three-quarter time break, before deciding the 23-year-old's day was done after the Swans opened up a comfortable lead early in the final term. Scans will determine whether Cunningham will miss any football.

NEXT UP:
The Saints face the daunting task of a fired-up Western Bulldogs outfit smarting from two straight losses at Etihad next Saturday afternoon. Sydney hosts Hawthorn at the SCG next Friday night in a game most would have pegged as match of the round before both teams were dealt reality checks in the early weeks of the season.

 

ST KILDA      3.2     5.4    7.5      10.8 (68)              
SYDNEY        4.2     7.3    12.8   18.10 (118) 

GOALS
St Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Gresham 2, Membrey 2, Acres, McCartin, Roberton
Sydney: Franklin 4, Hannebery 2, Papley 2, Cunningham 2, Towers, Reid, Kennedy, Tippett, Hayward, Newman, Hewett, Rohan 

BEST 
St Kilda: Steven, Ross, Acres, Gilbert, Billings
Sydney: Kennedy, Hannebery, Mills, Parker, Grundy, Lloyd 

INJURIES 
St Kilda: Newnes (concussion), Weller (right ankle)
Sydney: Cunningham (right foot)

Reports: Kurt Tippett reported for striking Jarryn Geary in the first quarter

Umpires: Stevic, Mitchell, Mollison 

Official crowd: 29,778 at Etihad Stadium