West Coast coach Adam Simpson is confident he can fix his team’s leaky defence after watching his team escape with a 19-point win over St Kilda on Saturday night.
The Saints were unlucky not to come away with the win after producing six more scoring shots in an impressive effort.
At one stage, St Kilda had registered 13 scoring shots from 14 inside-50s as West Coast’s defence struggled to deal with the Saints’ counter-attacks.
Poor goalkicking eventually cost St Kilda the win, with West Coast prevailing 18.8 (116) to 13.19 (97).
West Coast have averaged 126 points in wins over North Melbourne and St Kilda.
But they’ve conceded on average 95 points per match – an area Simpson wants to tighten up.
“The one area we can improve is our defence,” Simpson said.
“Not necessarily our back six, it’s probably our team defence.
“But having said that, to concede the goals from our forward 50m stoppages, and from kick-ins where they go straight to opposition – they’re fixable things.
“We’re lucky it hasn’t cost us a game in the first two rounds. I still think we deserved to win.”
St Kilda were on the wrong end of a 23-8 free-kick count.
But while Saints fans would be fuming after reading that stat, Saints coach Alan Richardson was more philosophical, saying a lot of the free kicks paid to West Coast were probably deserved.
“I thought the 23 against – we were a bit sloppy,” Richardson said.
“We kicked it on the full a bit (as well). There isn’t much we can do about it.
“But I reckon early, I would have thought there was a bit of a chance, when we tackled and dispossessed, probably (we should) get a free kick.
“But there isn’t a lot of noise. West Coast fans are hardly going to yell out, ‘Holding the ball’ when we’re tackling.
“And I’m not sure whether that puts pressure on umpires or reinforces what they might or might have not… I don’t know.
“But it did look like we were a little bit unlucky.”
St Kilda now sit at 0-2 in a season where many pundits tipped them to make the finals.
RIchardson isn’t panicking just yet, and said forward Nick Riewoldt was a slight chance to return for Sunday’s clash with Brisbane at Etihad Stadium.
Star Saints midfielder Jack Steven is in doubt for the match after being taken to hospital on Saturday night for precautionary scans on his chest/ribs.
Richardson said Riewoldt has only been doing straight-line running, and would have to showcase his lateral movement before being given the green light to play.
“You never rule him out, he’s a bit of a freak like that,” Richardson said.