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Lyon post-match Q & A: Rd 8 v Saints

Watch Ross Lyon's post-match media conference. Ross Lyon addressed the media following Saturday's win over St Kilda.

Is there a sense of relief the game is over and you’ve got the four points?
As a football club we are more than the four points so it has been a challenging week. The president, CEO and myself spoke to what sort of footy club we want to be and how we want to go about it and that positive experience. Obviously game day is a part of it, but winning doesn’t wallpaper over everything we still have a bit to work through and we feel like we are doing that. For a player group to stay focused and be well led it’s an important aspect. Why it’s important is that historically we could name a number of premiership teams and clubs that were up and about that really weren’t the full bottle on and off. Therefore the issues being addressed are critical to every club but we are focused on that.

Clearly our core business is playing football and I thought as a young group, for the path we’re on missing (Michael) Walters, (Nathan) Wilson, (Stephen) Hill, (Matt) Taberner and (Harley) Bennell we have some young players and it was a meritorious performance. We were challenged strongly and I thought our young group kept their head and worked back and went away in the end. That was important, and there were some important lessons and we’ll take that to the review. There are some bigger challenges obviously we’ll go to the SCG next week. We will take all that into account, review it and move on. I thought we should have been further in front but our polish and connection at times when we should have been going away we just stuffed that up a little bit and that allowed them back in. To their credit they really fought on and made a game of it and we had to dig in and go again. I thought we did that. (Brennan) Cox was really good, (Andy) Brayshaw’s best game for the club, Langdon and Blakely continue to grow. (Taylin) Duman and (Mitch) Crowden a lot of our young players are improving but it’s a big challenge for us next week.

How big were Cerra’s goals given that’s when they were coming?
That left foot was all class but we’ve seen it before. He does it at training, so if you don’t do it at training you’re not going to fluke it in a game. When he’s having a set shot the players on the bench go ‘he’s going to nail this’ He is a highly skilled player and we can’t wait to see him with another summer under his belt. He is so humble, Andy is so humble there are some good signs for us as a club.

How worried were you at three quarter time given they had momentum?
You’re always concerned but I think you bring experience to the table as a coach. I’ve coached 269 games and been through it before. So you have some simple instructions that need to be done and you bank on your leaders being able to get it done. I thought we controlled the ball, built it up, made them defend, created a plus one at times and I thought we took control back with method. Rather than just reckless effort.

How did you assess Fyfe’s game tonight?
It was amazing. He’s an amazing player. It was a very special performance tonight. 25 contested and fourteen first possessions, 12 clearances, three or four contested marks and his ball use is getting better every week. But more importantly his leadership, bringing a young group through, I thought Sandilands was super, all our leaders, Lachie Neale, (David) Mundy and Alex Pearce we’re pretty good, so it’s a nice feeling.

How hard is Fyfe to defend now do you think? Guys that win their own footy are pretty much impossible to stop.
Well they are, the insiders are impossible to stop. But Sydney will come and (Luke) Parker’s been cleared so he will be there, (Josh) Kennedy is a contested ball beast at the SCG. Nat will look forward to the challenge, so too will Mundy and Neale. Sydney have been a great team over the last six or seven years, they are a great club. So it’s a challenge that we need to embrace. 

How has your away form been?
It's been terrible. Sydney is a different proposition to Melbourne. But we don't want to be fair weather. We want to be mentally tough enough to bring that energy and effort that we've been able to produce here. We should be able to do that. The SCG on a Saturday night is a pretty exciting place to be. It can be a cauldron, but geez it's a great atmosphere and a great place to play footy, playing against a great club. We're looking forward to it.

Fyfe's bump on Seb Ross?
Are you trying to execute him? Don't we want our great players in the game. I think I saw it like you. It was on the far side. I think he just went in and tackled. Gee whiz I would be shocked. Obviously Carlisle was an accidental clip to the head. I saw Darling accidentally knock out (Phil) Davis. Accidents happen on the footy field.

Do you get shocked sometimes by the Match Review Panel?
To be honest, I don't bother myself with it, because I can't control it. If you make the ball your object, you tend to be in pretty good shape. If you want to get involved in some garbage, you put yourself at risk. I think there's good people over there trying to do a good job in a difficult circumstance. You're never going to keep everyone happy.

How is Hayden Ballantyne?
It’s a cork. I thought he was super tonight before the cork. He's playing some really good footy. A lot of people questioned Hayden, but his summer has been amazing, and his enthusiasm, and his leadership. A few years ago there was a lot being written and said about Hayden, and it turned out to be not true in a real sense, and he's very much a Docker and committed and passionate, so we're thrilled with that.

Is Fyfe running better than he ever has?
He's always been a great runner. It's like Dustin Martin, he’s a speed endurance beast. So is Nathan. I don't think we appreciate how great an athlete these guys are. Nathan's an aerobic beast and a repeat anaerobic beast, I mean that's what he is.  And he's dedicated. He works incredibly hard. He's harnessed all of his god-given, or genetic talent.

Is Cam McCarthy missing Taberner?
I think that's a fair point. Look he's played some good footy. If he keeps kicking one or two a week, he's going to come home with 30 to 40 goals. He's played 46 games. Everyone was riding, and we were riding Matt a bit to be honest, and you want them to come through quicker. But sometimes to mature and grow ... and that's why it's typically 80-100 games of about 15 players before you can win a flag. So he's had 46. So he's halfway. And if you're kicking 30 or 40, you're a pretty good player. You're going to have nights like tonight, and he still kicked 1.1. So if he's kicking 1.1 and competing and chasing like he did tonight, we'll take it. And his good days are going to be two, 2.2. We're just so excited about what he's going to be at 100 games. And couple it up with (Brennan) Cox at 100, (Adam) Cerra at 80 or 100. I think we're all going to be excited by that. You watch West Coast, how many has (Marc) LeCras played. 200. (Josh) Kennedy, (Jack) Darling, (Jamie) Cripps. It would be north of 100. He was drafted when I was at the Saints. So it gives you some context. And it's not being cute. But at the end of the day, we'd love to speed it up, but we can't. There's going to be some frustrations, some learning. But I think our fans can see what we're doing.

Six day breaks are tough. Your players looked tired?
No, I thought we ran well. I don't think we looked tired. Our numbers were telling us we were right on the mark. No. Gees Richmond don't look tired off three games in 13 days.

Who do you hope to get back?
We're certainly looking at Walters, (Stephen) Hill, Wilson.

How close was Stephen Hill?
We tested him this morning, a fitness test this morning. I went into the club. He was tested at 9.20 this morning.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs