Mattaes Phillipou celebrates St Kilda's win over Sydney in R17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY forward Logan McDonald missed a shot on goal with less than a minute remaining for the second week in a row as the Swans suffered a second-straight defeat in a stunning upset win by St Kilda.

McDonald marked 50 metres out directly in front with about 60 seconds remaining and lined up a shot to take the lead, but his kick went left and the Saints held on to win by two points.

SAINTS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

The key forward, who re-signed at the Swans during the week, last weekend saw his a long-range shot after the siren fall short as Fremantle won by one point at the SCG.


The Saints kicked eight of the last 10 goals of the match in a stunning fightback to punish the wasteful Swans, winning 13.6 (84) to 11.16 (82).

A dirty day for the Swans was compounded by an incident involving one of the Brownlow Medal favourites Isaac Heeney, who could come under Match Review Officer scrutiny for a scuffle with Jimmy Webster that left the Saints defender bloodied.


An oppressive Saints outfit turned around 30-point deficit off the back of aggressive contested ball work and damaging attacking play from young gun Mattaes Phillipou.

It was an impressive day from the 19-year-old Saint in his first game back after a stint in the VFL, who put his side's attack on his back to record 26 disposals, 10 score involvements and a goal of his own.

He was further aided by the run of Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (28 disposals, 491 metres gained), Liam Henry (20 disposals, four inside 50s, one goal) and Jack Higgins (three goals, five tackles).


In the early patches of the game St Kilda's pressure was immense, albeit not necessarily reflected in its tackle stats. Through that pressure, it was able to once again force a poor first quarter from the ladder-leading Swans.

That pressure faded through the middle of the game, but returned as the Saints swelled with confidence in the last quarter, not allowing two Heeney goals on the eve of three-quarter-time to concern them.

Sydney was fumbly and rushed thanks to St Kilda's ability to quickly shut down space, and even though Errol Gulden (28 disposals, 497 metres gained) recorded 12 first quarter disposals, they were without his signature class.

Logan McDonald is consoled by Tom Papley after Sydney's loss to St Kilda in R17, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

It was a defence-first attitude from the Saints, flooding back to challenge Sydney's forwards, particularly in the air. While it was effective through large periods of the game, they struggled to generate damaging attack in their own right in the first half.

With the ball won in the back half, often St Kilda would look up and see nothing but red and white guernseys, and as a result, were forced to chip the ball around with short kicks while teammates populated the front half once more.


That shifted in the second half, however, as Saints looked most dangerous when turning over a Sydney fast break, and repelling right through the corridor. In doing so, they dominated the third quarter.

Sydney was guilty of some poor forward entries, which the home side at up and then slingshotted through the middle. In that time, Henry became the most dangerous player on the ground, either offering the link going inside 50, or getting on the end of a teammate's.


In the face of St Kilda's numbers down back, the Swans struggled to find cohesion inside 50, relying heavily on the run-and-carry of the midfield to do damage on the scoreboard. Chad Warner (23 disposals, two goals) tried to surge Sydney back into a winning position, as did Ollie Florent (24 disposals, one goal), but it wasn't enough.

It is the second game in a row against the Saints where Sydney has recorded more scoring shots, but lost the match.


Heeney's nervous wait
In a career-best season, Isaac Heeney has been a fan favourite for the Brownlow Medal this year. There may be some concerns around his eligibility, however, after a stray elbow in the third quarter against the Saints. Late in the term as St Kilda closed to within one straight kick with four unanswered goals, the Swans were on the attack. Trying to break free from a close-checking Jimmy Webster, Heeney shoved his elbow behind him, copping Webster high and sending him to the ground. Heeney went on to mark the footy and kick a goal while Webster was still on the deck. The incident will certainly be examined by the Match Review Officer on Monday.


An enthralling battle
The ruck contest between St Kilda's Rowan Marshall and Sydney's Brodie Grundy was a fascinating watch. In the opening half, Marshall arguably came out on top by playing smart football. Acknowledging that Grundy was focused on moving to the wing to challenge any of the Saints' kicks long down the line, Marshall crept forward at every opportunity, enjoying either no direct opponent, or a significant mismatch. The St Kilda ruck kicked two impressive goals before Grundy opted to wear him more closely, preventing the Swan from playing with his own dominant flair.

The surge
After a slow start, Sydney got out to a 30-point lead midway through the third quarter. St Kilda was able to mow down the lead by switching from its defence-heavy style of play, flooding defence and simply using numbers to disrupt the Swans' ball movement, into an aggressive attack that largely started at stoppage. Marshall led this from the air, but it was the likes of Jack Steele and Jack Sinclair who did the grunt work on the deck. When the Saints play with an attacking flair, they can compete with anyone, but when they go into their shells, opposition sides can pick them apart. It is simply about finding that aggressive intent for longer.

ST KILDA         2.2    4.4    9.4   13.6 (84)
SYDNEY           2.2    8.5    11.11   11.16 (82)

St Kilda: Higgins 3, Marshall 2, Sharman 2, Wilson, Butler, Wood, Henry, Phillipou, Membrey
Sydney: McDonald 2, Warner 2, Heeney 2, McInerney, Campbell, Fox, Papley, Florent

St Kilda: Henry, Marshall, Steele, Phillipou, Wanganeen-Milera, Higgins
Sydney: Rowbottom, Warner, Gulden, Heeney, Florent

St Kilda: Windhager (hamstring)
Sydney: Nil

St Kilda: Ben Paton (replaced Marcus Windhager in the third quarter)
Sydney: Taylor Adams (replaced Matt Roberts at three-quarter time)

Crowd: 30,267 at Marvel Stadium