ST KILDA has denied Sydney a fairytale AFLW debut as Kate Shierlaw booted four goals to set up a 29-point victory in front of a fervent crowd at North Sydney Oval.
SWANS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats
The inaugural Swans rode a wave of emotion and effort to outplay the Saints for much of the opening term but the visitors impressed after the first change to triumph 8.8 (56) to 4.3 (27) on Saturday.
The Swans' loss could come at a further cost as No.1 draft pick Montana Ham went to ground and immediately clutched at her knee in the dying stages of the final term and had to be helped from the field.
With the scores tight in the second term, Shierlaw kicked two goals in as many minutes to open up a 21-point lead that the Saints never looked like giving up despite it being a memorable occasion for the Swans in front of 8,264 fans.
The tall forward went on to cause the Swans defence concerns throughout and was the dominant target on the field.
The Saints prized recruit Nicola Stevens made an ideal start for her new club and in her 50th match, kicking truly to open the scoring after only 90 seconds.
Rebecca Privitelli put her name in the record books soon after as the Swans first AFLW player to boot a goal, making the most of a free kick 25m out and directly in front to set off wild celebrations.
Georgia Patrikios had a game-high 17 disposals and added strength to the Saints' midfield in her first match after sitting out season six when choosing not to meet vaccination requirements, while Tarni White also gathered 17 touches.
Clara Fitzpatrick made a stirring return after two seasons on the sidelines due to Visa issues and an ACL injury and Saints midfielder Molly McDonald (13) showed that she is ready to emerge as a key player in her fourth season.
The Swans fielded 11 debutantes including Ham who grew into the game before her injury but co-captain Lauren Szigeti was the pick of the first-gamers and Cynthia Hamilton also impressed.
In a spirited first showing, the Swans controlled the ball and territory for long periods but the Saints gradually wore them down to reveal they are well placed to improve on a second-last finish last season.
"She's in good spirits at the moment. We'll get a scan and have a look at it. It's a hard one to tell, the way that it happened with the way that the St Kilda player fell across. I usually like to get an indication (off the physio) but they couldn't even give me an indication." - Sydney coach Scott Gowans on Montana Ham
"Kate's an interesting player because her workrate never drops off. She puts herself constantly in positions to have an opportunity and tonight she got that reward for effort." - Saints coach Nick Dal Santo on Kate Shierlaw
Sydney will look to bounce back when it takes its first road trip to face Collingwood at Victoria Park next Sunday, while the Saints face another expansion club in Hawthorn later the same day.
SYDNEY 1.1 2.1 3.1 4.3 (27)
ST KILDA 1.2 4.2 6.5 8.8 (56)
Sydney: Privitelli, Lochland, C.Hamilton, Skinner
St Kilda: Shierlaw 4, Xenos 2, Stevens, Matin
Sydney: Ham, Eastman, Tarrant, Steane
St Kilda: White, Shierlaw, McDonald, Patrikios, McKinnon
Sydney: Ham (knee)
St Kilda: Nil