‘Turning point’: Upset win could spark Saints surge

AFL Rd 17 - St Kilda v Sydney
Saints players celebrate their win over Sydney. Picture: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

His depth of coaching experience history tells Ross Lyon that St Kilda’s upset win over Sydney last week could be a “turning point” for his team that has underachieved so far this season but is building towards being a “high trust team”.

The Saints surrendered a big lead to the ladder leaders before regaining it late at Marvel Stadium and holding on for a thrilling two-point win, a sixth for the season after a two-point loss to Port Adelaide the weekend before.

Ahead of clash with the Crows in Adelaide this week, Lyon referenced similar victories during his time at Fremantle that he believed helped those teams “forge” ahead with renewed belief.

In his first season at the Dockers in 2012, on a rainy day at the MCG, Lyon’s side ended a three-match losing streak by beating Richmond and then went on to win eight of the next 11 games and make the finals.

While a similar scenario looms as unlikely this season, Lyon said building belief was crucial and victories like the one over the Swans helped do that.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach some great teams and had some great home and away victories,” Lyon said on Thursday.

“I could go back to the Dockers, we never used to win at the MCG, lost 24 out of 26, and we beat Richmond in the wet and it was a real turning point. Sometimes there are real turning points.

Fremantle celebrate their win in the wet in 2012. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling
Fremantle celebrate their win in the wet in 2012. Picture: AAP Image/David Crosling

“Sometimes you can have significant wins that fortify you and forge a belief of your direction and I think that certainly, to some extent, just a little bit, it’s tipped it there somewhere.”

Lyon said there was evidence of that belief in young star Mattaes Phillipou, who earnt a perfect 10 votes from the coaches playing his first game back after a lengthy stint in the VFL.

Phillipou, in just his second year in the AFL, told Lyon he would stay at the lower level for “as long as it takes” to hone his midfield craft and the coach couldn’t have been more glowing in his appraisal.

“He loved it down there and he settled, we saw the best of him,” Lyon said.

“If he can play like that every week, we’ll have an All-Australian. But there will be ups and downs. There’s good signs … he complements that younger group who are here to elevate.”

AFL Rd 17 - St Kilda v Sydney
Mattaes Phillipou was best afield in the win over Sydney. Picture: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Despite the renewed positivity at Moorabbin, Lyon said the players were all “very level”, knowing consistency was the only currency in the AFL and the players would have to go again against the Crows.

“Confidence is just a feeling but when you have a win you feel better and more confident about what you are trying to deliver,” he said.

“We feel like our last month has been, and we know on analytics, has been a tick up against good opposition.

“We’d like to bottle it and pour it out again, but it doesn’t work like that, you have to bring it to life again.”