St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has praised skipper Nick Riewoldt’s words and actions in his side’s upset win over Essendon.
Through his words and actions on Saturday night, St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt willed his side over the line.
Riewoldt continued his positive start to the AFL season, booting five goals in the Saints’ shock 16-point win over Essendon.
He was at his best when St Kilda were at their worst, lifting after his side recorded 1.6 in a wasteful opening quarter.
“He was frustrated for us. Our effort was pretty good in the first quarter but it was 1.6 to five goals straight … we just couldn’t convert,” St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said.
“The great thing about Nick as a leader is he turns his frustration into effort, and if you continue to work as hard as he does it’s going to end up going your way.”
Having helped the Saints build a 10-point lead at three-quarter time, Riewoldt marshalled his teammates and urged them not to let victory slip.
“He certainly grabbed the group at three-quarter time. Our on-field manager was doing his head in, because I’d already talked for too long and I’m not sure where that sits in terms of copping a fine,” he said.
“Lenny (Hayes) was another one, I thought our leaders were outstanding.”
The Saints, tipped by many to collect the wooden spoon following a tumultuous off-season in which coach Scott Watters was sacked, are suddenly 3-2 and in the top eight.
They will also fancy their chances of beating winless Brisbane in Wellington on Anzac Day, when star defender Sam Fisher could return from a back injury.
Richardson suggested his young side would stay grounded despite the early success.
“We won’t change our focus,” Richardson said.
“Whatever happens in terms of win-loss will be what it will be, but for us it’s all about the way we want to play.”
Fisher got through his VFL comeback on Saturday and is a chance of taking on the Lions, but David Armitage, who suffered a badly cut knee in round-four loss to Adelaide, won’t make the trip to New Zealand.