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Swans outclass slow-starting Saints

On a night celebrating pride, pride was all St Kilda had to play for after quarter-time at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. - St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans
On a night celebrating pride, pride was all St Kilda had to play for after quarter-time at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

ON A NIGHT celebrating pride, pride was all St Kilda had to play for after quarter-time at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

By that point of this year's Pride Game, Sydney had all but put the result of the game beyond doubt.

The Swans led by 48 points after kicking the match's opening nine goals and had just recorded their highest-ever first-quarter score against St Kilda – 9.1 (55) – and established their biggest-ever quarter-time lead over the Saints.

It seemed Alan Richardson's 100th game as St Kilda coach was destined to be a nightmare, with a belting in the offing the likes of which the Saints had not endured since the coach's early days at the then rebuilding club.

Fortunately, St Kilda, although thoroughly outclassed, showed some pride in the final three quarters, to limit the Swans' winning margin to 71 points.

The Saints' effort improved markedly from the start of the second quarter and they at least kept fighting to the end, outscoring the Swans in the final quarter.

But they could not stop Sydney from cruising to a 19.12 (126) to 7.13 (55) victory, in what was their biggest loss for two years.

It continued their horror start to a year in which they were widely predicted to return to the finals for the first time since 2011.The Saints remain winless since round one, their worst start to a season since 2000, when they won just two games for the year.

The Swans' victory was their ninth straight over St Kilda and fifth win in a row, helping them climb above Geelong into third on the ladder on percentage.

Etihad Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for the Swans recently, with Longmire's men having now won 14 of their past 15 games at the Docklands venue.

Sydney belted St Kilda at the clearances, 39-27, with Josh Kennedy (31 possessions, six clearances and one goal), Issac Heeney (27 possessions, six clearances and one goal) and George Hewett (19 disposals and five clearances) doing the damage.

Hewett also performed an outstanding run-with job on Jack Steven, holding the usually prolific Saints star to just nine possessions.

Lance Franklin (4.4 and 12 marks) was lively in attack and climbed to fourth in the Coleman Medal race, four goals behind leader Ben Brown (35).

Second-year midfielder Oliver Florent (27 possessions) was also impressive, while Callum Sinclair (14 possessions, 29 hit-outs and three goals) had the better of his ruck contest with Tom Hickey, and Jarrad McVeigh, Dane Rampe and Heath Grundy kept things tight in defence.

Despite the fact they won the inside 50 count 55-49, St Kilda failed to reach 60 points for the sixth time this year.

On a tough night, Seb Ross (25 possessions and five clearances) fought a rear-guard action in the midfield, while Jimmy Webster (24 possessions) and Bailey Rice (20) battled hard in defence.

Richardson has never coached a win against Sydney counterpart John Longmire, with the Saints' last win over the Swans coming in round nine, 2012, at Etihad Stadium. The only member of the Saints' team on Saturday night who played in that game was Steven.



St Kilda: Key defender Nathan Brown did not return after half-time after suffering a concussion.

Sydney: TBC


The Saints play Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium next Saturday, having lost three of their past four games at the Suns' home ground. The Swans host West Coast next Friday night at the SCG, where they have beaten the Eagles in their past six encounters.