Getting games into St Kilda’s youth with the intention of winning games in both the short and long-term is front of mind in Ross Lyon’s mind as he and the Saints continue to juggle an important “dual-narrative” throughout 2024.

The first part of that statement has been true with the Saints introducing four teenage debutants this season and continuing to build up the football résumés of Mattaes Phillipou, Marcus Windhager, Mitch Owens and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, who are all still under 21 years of age with the latter trio nearing 50 games apiece. However the winning component has been elusive over the past few weeks, and proved so again last night against Port Adelaide.


Outside of last week’s 60-point loss at the hands of the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda’s losses this season have come in at 10 points or under: Geelong by eight points, Essendon by three, GWS by one following on from Friday’s 10-point loss to the Power which puts the ledger at 2-5.

The final discrepancies themselves may be small on the scoreboard, however it’s those marginal differences across the board which Lyon believes will be bridged in time as he pumps more games into the Saints’ youth.

“I think we took a step forward. We’re trying to run a dual-narrative: win games, blood kids, improve our football,” Lyon said post-game.

“The scoreline and the ladder says we need to improve. I think the close losses are a reflection of where we’re at…. we’re thereabouts but we need to get better. 

We’re not sitting here happy, we’re not sitting here comfortable, but we’re really clear on internally what we're wanting to improve.

- Ross Lyon

“We’ve had a bit of youth with Phillipou, we liked Hastie when he came on and tried to give him more go-time, Garcia was a second or third (game) player and Phillipou’s just as old as those kids.

“We feel like we’ve got some youth that we’re going to continue to push through in Owens and Caminiti. But we know ourselves really well and we know when you get in that real tight stuff and what separates us a little bit… we’ve got a fair bit of work to do, but nothing we don’t know about to be fair.”

Round 7 v Port Adelaide

After being put to the sword by 10 goals last week against the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda’s effort to fight through to the final siren on Friday night couldn’t be questioned.

The Saints drew to within 10 points twice throughout the final term courtesy of late majors to Jack Sinclair, Jack Higgins and Anthony Caminiti, but ultimately couldn’t catch the Power late as the class of Power trio Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Jase Burgoyne prevailed.

Lyon and his coaches moved the magnets in the final term in the hopes of derailing the home outfit, which saw Rowan Marshall moved forward at times, Liam Stocker, Sinclair and Josh Battle rolled through the midfield - the latter taking some ruck contests - and substitute Angus Hastie coming into the game in place of Cooper Sharman to rev up the Saints’ movement.


“Certainly we were up for a fight. We know their quality, particularly in the midfield that’s where a lot of their quality is and we’re trying to build out in there,” Lyon said.

“That was challenging for us all night. We strategised a lot, worked a lot and it enabled us to fight on, but not quite good enough.

“I thought we were daring (in the last quarter). I thought we were playing up-tempo and taking it on. That’s just my opinion.

“As Kenny (Hinkley) said’…. ‘we saw you going and we were really worried’. Sometimes it’s a fumble, a dropped mark (that let us down)… there was some marginal stuff.”

Port Adelaide’s win was soured by a spate of injuries to key players Connor Rozee (hamstring), Sam Powell-Pepper (knee) and Aliir Aliir (concussion), with Rowan Marshall the only concern on the Saints’ front after receiving a knock early in the game.

“He’s very brave. With Rowan it was a bit of a knock and the doctors worked on him and said he was fine to come back on.” Lyon said.

“We’re expecting him to get up, but he’ll have to work pretty hard.”