St Kilda edge brave GWS for AFL victory
Spearhead Max King sparkled in his first match of the season as St Kilda held off a brave GWS to snatch a 12-point triumph in an enthralling AFL clash at Giants Stadium.
King was superb on return from a shoulder reconstruction and a hamstring injury to finish with four goals as the Saints secured a 13.14 (92) to 12.8 (80) victory on Sunday.
With King back as the Saints' focal point their small forwards Jack Higgins (three goals), Dan Butler and Jade Gresham (both two) were also able to run free in a close contest in which the lead changed hands 13 times.
Jack Sinclair (game-high 37 disposals, two goals), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (29) and Bradley Hill (20) were influential in the free-flowing contest, while first-year Saint Liam Stocker (24) was another to impress.
"The return of Max King, I just spoke in the rooms, was a credit to an eight-month rehab," Saints coach Ross Lyon said.
"He had a setback with a hamstring tendon but he never wavered. He got due reward today, which is fantastic and I think he'll just get better and better."
The hard-fought victory entrenches the Saints (7-3) in the top eight, while the Giants (3-7) will rue a missed opportunity after they held the greatest margin of the tense tussle when leading by 13 points in the opening term.
Giants key forward Jesse Hogan was a threat in the air throughout and slotted two majors but was off target with a set shot in the dying stages that would have reduced the margin to less than a goal.
GWS skipper Toby Greene also had two goals on his return from a stint on the sidelines, while Brent Daniels also lit up the forward half with 23 disposals and two goals.
"Brent was really strong. I thought he played a forward role that really created that chaos," Giants coach Adam Kingsley said.
"He was the catalyst to getting our game up and going early. He had plenty of opportunities and created plenty of opportunities."
Former co-captains Stephen Coniglio (26 disposals, one goal) and Josh Kelly (24, one) also led the way for the Giants, while Tom Green (29 touches) battled hard around the stoppages.
The match was put on hold for more than five minutes when Saints young gun Mitch Owens sustained an accidental knee to the head from a teammate and had to be helped from the field in the second term, before watching the second half from the bench.
The Giants led by four points at the first change and the scores were level at the main break after the lead had changed hands eight times in an even opening half.
The tight contest continued through the third term as the lead changed three more times, as the Saints took a three-point advantage into the last quarter before holding on late in the game.
The Saints face Hawthorn on Saturday, while the Giants head to Geelong to take on the reigning premiers later the same day.