Lyon gives Saints a ‘mulligan’ after mauling by Crows

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St Kilda coach Ross Lyon is prepared to give his side a “mulligan” after Sunday’s Mother’s Day mauling at the hands of Adelaide – the first trouncing of his second coming at the Saints’ helm.

St Kilda expect to regain injury-cursed forward Max King for his long-awaited first game of the season for their visit to the Giants next week, just in the nick of time. But that is off-set by the loss of fellow forward Tim Membrey, who is under concussion protocols, and a slight doubt about skipper Jack Steele, who sat out the last quarter in Adelaide with a knee strain.

Max King takes the ball during a St Kilda training session last week.Credit: Getty Images

“Steele had a bit of tweak of his knee, but we think he’ll be fine, and we think Max King plays next week,” Lyon said. “With him [Membrey] being concussed, if he [King] is available, I think we’ll pick him.”

Uncharacteristically and unexpectedly, the AFL’s stingiest back line leaked 19 goals en route to a 52-point trampling at the hands of Adelaide on Sunday, the Saints’ first defeat by more than seven points this season.

Buoyed by line-breaking movement in transition and supreme efficiency in attack, the Crows blasted seven of the first eight goals against a St Kilda outfit unable to stem the bleeding, the heaviness of which they have become unaccustomed to seeing.

The Saints have had some enjoyable moments in 2023 – Sunday wasn’t one of them.

Tim Membrey is injured after taking a mark.Credit: AFL Photos

“We lost the uncontested ball, we lost marks, they won the ground-ball war, they won the spread war and they took our game off us in a sense defensively,” Lyon reeled off.

“They beat us at the contest and then piped and spread. We were disorganised, compared relatively to what we are over the journey for the season, so that was disappointing.

“I think it’s one game, though, isn’t it? Everyone’s going to have a game where they don’t play at their best – sometimes the opposition beats you. We’ll give them a mulligan.”

After a diabolical start, Lyon was encouraged by the Saints’ second-quarter fightback, momentarily curbing Adelaide’s outside run and trumping them in clearances (13-10) and inside-50s (14-7). But the Crows’ superior ability to maximise their opportunities – they kicked four without a miss from their limited entries – kept the visitors at bay.

“I thought early from stoppage and spread, they [Crows] were really good, and our short entries invited them into [our] turnover,” Lyon said.

“Anything that was shallow, they rebounded. I thought in the second quarter we were dominant, to be truthful. At half-time, we were pretty optimistic.

“In the third we had some classic opportunities going in, where we missed sitters early, then they went bang, bang, bang. It got really difficult from there.″⁣

Membrey will miss the Sydney trip after his head slammed into the ground in a marking contest late in the third term. The Saints hope King, who has not played this season while rehabilitating from shoulder reconstruction surgery, will slot in in his place.

”It’s a long season – if you make the top four, you’re going to lose seven. We haven’t done a lot wrong. I’m optimistic about the group’s character but talk’s cheap. We’ll get to find out next week.”

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