Lacklustre Saints survive scare from Lions

A match-winning performance from Jack Steven has helped St Kilda to survive a major scare from AFL upstarts Brisbane, downing the Lions by 25 points at Etihad Stadium.

Lacklustre Saints survive scare from Lions

Lacklustre Saints survive scare from Lions

The lacklustre Saints went to sleep in Saturday's third quarter, giving up three straight goals and the lead before Steven stepped up to secure a 16.11 (107) to 12.10 (82) victory.

Brisbane looked to be on the verge of a famous opening-round victory when Tom Bell, No.1 draft pick Cameron Rayner and star recruit Charlie Cameron hit the scoreboard in quick succession.

But Steven booted two goals in two minutes on the stroke of three-quarter time to snatch back momentum and the lead for the Saints, who ran away with the game in the final term.

Steven finished with 34 disposals, reigning best and fairest Seb Ross was exceptional with his playmaking and Jade Gresham and Josh Bruce each slotted three majors.

"I thought the guys showed a lot of character," coach Alan Richardson said.

"The Lions probably got the better of us at the clearances (but) I thought our outside footy was really positive."

Ruckman Stefan Martin (42 hitouts, 19 disposals) and skipper Dayne Beams starred for a Brisbane side that stands to be much-improved from last year's wooden spoon finish.

The off-season addition of Cameron, Rayner and former Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge is already paying dividends.

Cameron slotted three goals, Rayner made a dynamic start to his AFL career and Hodge (25 disposals) showed his enduring class while marshalling the Lions backline.

St Kilda have made no secret of their belief that they are primed to return to the finals for the first time since 2011.

But on the evidence put forward on Saturday, it might be too soon for Saints fans to clear their September schedule.

The Saints were beaten for contested possessions, smashed at the stoppages and often sloppy with their ball movement.

A lack of polish ultimately proved to be the young Lions' undoing with at least half a dozen of St Kilda's goals scored from turnovers.

"I thought we made too many mistakes with the ball that caused turnovers and had to run pretty hard for most of the game to try and get the ball back," coach Chris Fagan said.

"That might have caught up with us ... St Kilda just used the ball better by foot than we did."

Brisbane went a man down early in the second quarter when important defender Daniel Rich injured his left ankle in a marking contest.

Rich was helped from the ground, went straight to the rooms and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest.

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