THEY came for Buddy. They witnessed another moment of history at the SCG. But they left disappointed after St Kilda kept its charge towards September alive.

On a night where Lance Franklin moved into fourth spot overall on the all-time goal kicking leaderboard behind only Tony Lockett, Gordon Coventry and Jason Dunstall, and a night where the Sydney superstar became only the 22nd player in VFL/AFL history to play 350 games, it wasn't to be as the Saints charged home for a 14-point win.


The Saints will return to Melbourne 8-4 and level with fourth-placed Brisbane after banking the 12.8 (80) to 9.12 (66) win - their eighth victory since Ross Lyon replaced Brett Ratten during an off-season of change at Moorabbin.

It was ugly early – and for large parts of the game – but the Saints like it this way and produced the response they were looking for after a disappointing performance against Hawthorn before the mid-season bye.

Rowan Marshall dominated in the ruck with 51 hitouts and 16 disposals, while Brad Crouch amassed 33 disposals and Jack Sinclair finished with 32 touches and 607m gained, while Max King continued his strong return from a shoulder reconstruction with three goals.

The first quarter was as unattractive and uninspiring as you will see in 2023. It didn't rain during the game but it sprinkled rain for a couple of hours after lunch and it was enough to ensure the surface was slipperier than it looked.

By quarter-time, St Kilda had the only goal and the only two scores on the board, despite 13 inside 50s apiece. Sydney didn't score for the first time in an opening quarter since a trip to Princes Park at the end of 1997.

It took a contested mark from Hayden McLean and a poster five minutes into the second quarter for the Swans to score and then the game clicked into gear. And it had to be Tom Papley who produced a moment of individual brilliance from right on the paint to record Sydney's first goal 10 minutes into the quarter.


Franklin moved to fourth on the all-time goalkickers list when he slotted his first goal to level the scores halfway through the second term, adding a second eight minutes later after.

Then when Papley pounced on a crumb and nailed his second he wheeled towards the members and electrified the SCG, hoping they were starting to forget about what transpired in the first 30 minutes.

After conceding five consecutive goals in the second quarter, St Kilda kicked the first two goals of the third quarter to make it four in a row to put them back in the game, but then the Swans wrestled momentum back but didn't capitalise.

Sydney coughed up two goals in two minutes in the last quarter on the back of two 50m penatlies. Mitch Owens nailed the first, before Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera made Angus Sheldrick pay for running over the mark minutes later.

Two misses from Joel Amartey and Errol Gulden were cancelled out when Braeden Campbell absorbed the pressure and calmy slotted a set shot to level the scores as the clocked ticked towards time-on in the last. But from there it was all St Kilda.

Saints small forward Dan Butler will attract scrutiny from the Match Review Officer for a crunching tackle on Nick Blakey. The Swans defender came straight off the ground and was immediately subbed out. The tackle could divide opinion given it looked like he had caught Blakey holding the ball after tackling him side on, but given the consequence it could cost Butler. Seb Ross conceded a free kick for a dangerous tackle on Joel Amartey in the last quarter that could also be looked at. 

The first quarter couldn't have been much sloppier. Sydney recorded its first scoreless quarter since a trip to Princes Park in round 21, 1997. It was the first scoreless quarter for the Swans at the SCG ever and the lowest scoring quarter since 1999. 0.0 to 1.1.

Saints midfield coach Lenny Hayes missed the trip north to Sydney due to illness, with development coach Brendon Goddard stepping up in his absence to fill the game day role in Ross Lyon's coaching panel.

SYDNEY       0.0   5.5   7.10  9.12 (66)
ST KILDA     1.1   4.2   7.4    12.8 (80)

Sydney: Franklin 2, Papley 2, Campbell, Clarke, Gulden, Lloyd, Wicks
St Kilda: King 3, Butler 2, Owens 2, Caminiti, Higgins, Phillipou, Sharman, Wanganeen-Milera

Sydney: Joel Amartey (replaced Nick Blakey in the third quarter)
St Kilda: Cooper Sharman (replaced Anthony Caminiti in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 30,123 at the SCG