BRISBANE Lions coach Justin Leppitsch was proud for his players on Friday night after they held off a rampaging St Kilda in Wellington to notch their first win of the season.
Having built a 32-point lead in the second quarter, the Lions were on the back foot in the final term as the Saints rallied, but they escaped with a much-needed three-point win.
With Saint Farren Ray spraying a regulation running shot on goal with 80 seconds left, Leppitsch admitted it could have been a different story for his young team.
"I carried on like an idiot in the last quarter, there's no doubt … the competitive edge definitely gets to you," Leppitsch said.
"I said to the boys winning's a good feeling and it's hard to replicate.
"They were really running on top of us (and) they did have the last scoring shot, so the game could have been decided by that.
"I'm proud for the guys to fight it out … they were able to grind it out, probably not with skills but with a little bit of heart."
After a 0-5 start to the season, Leppitsch said getting the monkey off their back would give the Lions confidence in their game plan.
However, he said skill errors had been a factor in the second half fadeout, which saw St Kilda kick seven of the last 10 goals.
"I was worried because we started kicking the ball out on the full and made silly mistakes," Leppitsch said.
"Halfway through that last quarter the game was probably only heading one way.
"One thing our guys have struggled to do in the first five weeks is when we've been challenged just hold the fort a bit and I thought we did that better and didn't leak as many goals so that was one good sign."
Leppitch said key defender Joel Patfull had been "exceptional" in keeping star forward Nick Riewoldt to one goal, while run-with player Andrew Raines had stood out playing a more attacking role in his first game for the season.
Draftees James Aish (25 possessions and a goal) and Lewis Taylor (13 and two goals) also gave the Lions a glimpse of the future.
"Our supporters will see more of that with every week," the coach said.
"They stepped up and they gave us their best … that's what happens in the ride of a young player.
"James was solid tonight. He played a really mature game and I was rapt for him."