Riley Bonner and Mitch Owens celebrate a goal during the R4 match between Richmond and St Kilda at Norwood Oval in Gather Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ST KILDA coach Ross Lyon has put the onus on his players for a topsy-turvy performance against Richmond, where the Saints kicked just one goal in the first half but completed a 37-point turnaround to secure victory.

The Tigers pushed until literally the final siren, with two score reviews for touched goals in the last minute, but the Saints' desperate lunges saw them win by seven points.

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"To be honest, the players were responsible for the first half and they're responsible for the second half. I mean, they're the facts. We talk about choice, they made the deliberate choice," Lyon said.

"My assistants were outstanding at half-time – we felt we didn't problem-solve as much as we wanted to as coaches against Essendon, even though it's marginal, it's round the edges.


"We come together, and Robert Harvey and (Brendon) Goddard and Corey Enright in particular just spoke about getting into the contest. So we just changed things up. Not that it was complicated early, but we did have a simpler (message) just to get into a contest, lift our pressure, hit the last line a bit more.

"That resulted in 21-odd entries … plus-17 in contested ball, and our pressure rating went from 1.7 to 2.16. In the last quarter, when they were coming at us, we maintained our pressure. Our midfield is spluttering a little bit, to be fair."


Lyon was at his whimsical best when asked how the rooms are at half-time when things aren't going to plan, but the team turns it around after the break.

"What happened is we actually landed a UFO in and walked out 22 aliens and put them in St Kilda jumpers and went out and played. We flipped the team," Lyon said with a grin.

"No, I was sharp at quarter-time, it's about the coaching panel. Players are going to do their thing, coaches come together – what are the three things, and you're banking on all the experience I've got, we're getting the right stuff, what are the KPIs and solution-focused, is it the right ones, and if it is, can they apply.

"Fortunately, it got glued together ok and we got a result, it doesn't always work like that."

First-year defender Darcy Wilson was outstanding in two crucial contests in the final few minutes of the game, standing up under pressure to repel Richmond entries.

"He's not a unicorn, right, but we've been very positive from the moment we've seen him train and play. I think – you know you hear the noise of the AFL, querying contests and that, he got hit hard last week by an Essendon half-backer, can't remember his name. Cleaned him up and he got up," Lyon said.

"Then in a small, tight, physical ground (Norwood Oval), he's really standing up to the rigours of AFL and we think we're pretty lucky to have him."


It was yet another honourable defeat for Adem Yze's Tigers, who aside from an Opening Round thumping at the hands of Gold Coast, have battled hard this year, the gap in class exposed.

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"I can't doubt our effort and our attitude with our players, they try hard every game we've been in and it was just execution," Yze said.

"The difference with the polish, I think in the third (quarter) when they had momentum and they kicked 6.6. When we had momentum in the last, we kicked 2.3.

"That's going to happen. We've got some young players, we've got a lot of young players getting an opportunity because of the injuries we've got. As I said, the effort and attitude of our players is strong throughout the game, but it was just the polish in the end."


The Tigers were missing both key forwards in Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Noah Balta (MCL), and are set to be without the pair for at least the next month, when the latter is due to return.

Recruit Jacob Koschitzke was recalled to the side as the primary target in attack – supported by third-gamer Mykelti Lefau – kicking one goal from nine disposals, and also recording 10 hitouts.

"He's worked really hard to get back into the side. There would have been a debate around him coming in, even if Lynch and Balta were fit. He deserved his opportunity, good to see players get around him, good to see him compete," Yze said.

"He'll hold his spot, that was really good to see. We've got some young players, like Mykelti Lefau, 'Kozi', (Tyler) Sonsie, we've got a young forward line that are just getting used to playing with each other.

"So today, it's going to be expected that our polish and synergy in our front half is going to take a little bit of time."