St Kilda have kicked off its second era under Ross Lyon on the right foot with a 10.7 (67) to 7.10 (52) win over Fremantle at a steamy Marvel Stadium.
Lyon previously coached St Kilda between 2007 and 2011 but walked out on the club to sign with Fremantle at the end of the 2011 season.
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He coached Fremantle between 2012 and 2019 before he was sacked before the final game of the 2019 season.
But after replacing Brett Ratten following the coaching shemozzle at the end of the 2022 season, Lyon was brought back into the fold, pulling off a win in his first match back in charge.
While the W is a great start for Lyon, there were two moments of madness which appeared to have divided the AFL after St Kilda gave away two back-to-back 50s for dissent within a minute.
The first came when St Kilda vice-captain Callum Wilkie was pinged for a hold on Fremantle’s Matt Taberner.
While replays showed Wilkie was holding Taberner’s guernsey, he was also being held right back and pointed to the big screen to remonstrate with the umpire, who immediately blew the 50.
It gifted the Dockers an easy goal.
“You can’t look at the screen then have a go at me, OK? That’s considered umpire dissent,” the umpire said.
Brownlow Medal winner Gerard Healy slammed Wilkie for giving away the goal.
“You still can’t let it get inside your head and give away a 50m. That’s just silly play,” Healy said.
“You can see why he’s filthy because he had his jumper grabbed, but you don’t win by giving away 50m.”
But almost immediately, the umpires awarded a mark to Freo’s James Aish just inside 50.
Saints skipper Jack Steele, like Wilkie before him, pointed to the screen to complain about the decision to the umpire.
However, it appears there will be zero tolerance for dissent in 2023 as the umpire award another 50 and a 12-point swing to the Dockers.
“Another one. You’d want to be really careful here St Kilda,” four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis told Fox Footy.
“You can’t reference the screen or question the umpire and the decision they’ve made. They’re clearly hot on that topic.
“I think you can look at the screen then ask the question, if that’s what they’re referring to. You’re allowed to have a genuine conversation with the umpire, as long as it’s in a respectful way.”
Nick Dal Santo said the players need to rethink the way they approach those conversations.
“There’s no doubt you can now have a conversation in the right manner,” triple All-Australian Nick Dal Santo told Fox Footy.
“Now where that line is, we’re still probably learning. But what we just learned from this quarter is you can’t watch the replay on the big screens then turnaround and debate it with the umpire … I think there’s probably a valid point there.
“You have to show respect in the right way and they did it twice in a row, which is unacceptable.”
But former Saints coach Grant Thomas was scathing about the umpires decision on the Steele incident.
“I need help…….so are we saying that pointing to screen to show umpire the player didn’t actually mark the ball is dissent?? Sure … I know it’s embarrassing for umpire but just because you’ve been exposed making a mistake you shouldn’t double down to try to deflect your error,” he tweeted.
Port Adelaide 300-gamer Kane Cornes added: “Don’t look at the replay screen, it’ll cost you 50. That’s new.”
ABC’s Sam Tomlin posted: “Is the dissent rule stupid? Yes. Is it there in black and white? Also yes.”
Luckily for the Saints, it didn’t hurt the Saints too bad as the club bounced back take the points.
In its first match back under Ross Lyon, the Saints put on a defensive masterclass to suffocate Fremantle and hand the veteran coach a dream return to the club he coached to two grand finals.
The Saints ran over the top of Lyon’s former club, Fremantle, with a four-goal to nothing last quarter, winning by 15-points.
Ryan Byrnes played his best game for the club and finished with 27 touches as his pace added an extra dimension to the St Kilda midfield.
Matthias Phillipou and Mitch Owens provided a spark up forward, while Mason Wood’s gut running paid dividends with two late goals to help his side home.
The Dockers, renowned as a defensive juggernaut itself, looked dysfunctional going forward as the loss of Rory Lobb was felt hard with prized recruit Luke Jackson not firing a shot.
With NCA Newswire
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