BRISBANE has overcome St Kilda, its own inaccuracy and blustery conditions at Trevor Barker Oval to record a nail-biting five-point win.
Debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin broke the Lions' goal drought, her dribbling major coming halfway through the third quarter after 11 consecutive behinds, and the Lions finishing the game with one goal fewer than the Saints, 3.13 (31) to 4.2 (26).
Improbably, the Saints had held the lead with just three scoring shots for the whole game up until that point.
Livewire forward Nic Xenos got the Saints off to the best start possible with a goal within the opening two minutes, and followed up with a second on the stroke of quarter-time.
By half-time, Brisbane had peppered its goals but to no avail, recording nine behinds from seven different players as the Saints struggled to shut down the entire forward group.
SAINTS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The Saints led in overall disposals (11-89), but the Lions had seven more inside 50s and clearances to the main break.
Yoshida-Martin's goal appeared to have opened the floodgates, and the Lions skipped to a 16-point lead at the final break.
But the Saints weren't done yet. Fourth-quarter majors from Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Caitlin Greiser (after a strong intercept mark by second-gamer Ella Friend) meant it was game on, until a series of goal-saving tackles on the last line of defence by the tight-knit Brisbane backline.
Cat Phillips was a workhorse, particularly in the first half, while Lucas-Rodd and Bianca Jakobsson were among the Saints' best.
Orla O'Dwyer and Emily Bates' strong seasons continued, and Belle Dawes' contested work was excellent.
Key forward Dakota Davidson – who missed one match earlier this year with a foot injury – was already proppy after smothering a kick and following up with a tackle, and a minute later was taken from the field, suffering a head knock after a clumsy Rhi Watt bump.
Midfield difference the key
St Kilda's back line was under enormous duress throughout the match, and a lot of it was on the back of losses in the midfield. The Saints – already without Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios – were missing fellow first-choice mids Rosie Dillon (ankle) and Liv Vesely (managed), and lost the clearance count 15-22. The final inside-50 count was a comprehensive 22-42.
Sparky forward re-discovers her X-factor
Nicola Xenos returned from a torn ACL in round one this year, having sat out the entirety of 2021. She may have only had the five touches against Brisbane, but her influence couldn't be questioned, kicking two goals and laying six tackles in her best game this year.
Undermanned Lions defence stands up
For the first time in its history, Brisbane's AFLW side was without mainstays Kate Lutkins (ACL) and Shannon Campbell (concussion). The two have been the main directors of play over the last five years. Without them, skipper Bre Koenen and rising star Nat Grider took the reins, with support from Phoebe Monahan, Indy Tahau and second-gamer Lulu Pullar.
"We felt like we did a lot right against a really good opposition. We were fully prepared, we knew what the Lions were going to bring, and we thought they brought that. I thought our energy and effort was a lot better than what it was five or six days ago, I thought we competed really hard, and maybe that's a sign of where we're at, we just didn't execute in those areas that are really important." – St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo
"(The message at half-time) was just start playing footy. We were sitting back and spectating a little bit, and the opposition showed us how to run the ball up into the breeze and get some scoring going. We were trudging around thinking the conditions were going to do it for us, but that's not the case, you still have to get out there and win the footy." – Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich
Brisbane has a tight turnaround, taking on a resurgent Gold Coast in a Thursday night QClash, before following up against Melbourne on Monday (both games at Metricon Stadium). St Kilda will take on Carlton on Saturday at Ikon Park.
ST KILDA 2.0 2.1 2.1 4.2 (26)
BRISBANE 0.4 0.9 3.11 3.13 (31)
St Kilda: Xenos 2, Lucas-Rodd, Greiser
Brisbane: Yoshida-Martin, Bodey, Conway
St Kilda: Phillips, Lucas-Rodd, Jakobsson, Priest, Xenos
Brisbane: O'Dwyer, Dawes, Bates, Hickie, Koenen
St Kilda: Nil
Brisbane: Davidson (head knock)
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