A report handed out to Koroit veteran Damian O'Connor put a dampener on the Saints' five-point win over fellow flag contender Warrnambool on Saturday.
The premiership player was yellow carded in the dying minutes of the Saints' 14.9 (93) to 12.16 (88) victory in front of a large and vocal crowd at Reid Oval.
O'Connor, who was returning from a long-term injury, was cited for an incident with Blue Jye Turland late in the fourth quarter.
Turland needed trainers' assistance before returning to his feet and accepting a 50-metre penalty.
His shot faded left but momentum had shifted temporarily with Luke Cody wheeling around at the 29-minute mark to put the Blues within five points.
Experienced Koroit duo Brett Harrington and Ben Dobson laid match-saving tackles late to ensure the Saints leapfrogged the Blues in second on percentage.
Koroit coach Chris McLaren was relieved to win the topsy-turvy match between the two Hampden league heavyweights.
"It doesn't appear there's too much between us and there's probably a couple of rippers (in finals) to come," he said.
"The Harrington tackle, the Dobson tackle (were crucial) and they had their really good moments too but maybe we just shaded them in those critical 50-50 contests."
McLaren was rapt with the Saints' ability to score against the wind in the third term.
They kicked four goals to the Blues' five in that period.
He thought a one-point deficit was a handy spot for the Saints at the final break but praised the Blues, in particular the classy Jackson Bell, for their persistence.
Warrnambool coach Matt O'Brien was pleased with his charges' final term pluck, which saw them kick three goals to four against the breeze.
"We had 30 one percenters in the last quarter and tackles were up as well," he said.
"Our intensity was really high so I was really pleased with that, some of our foot work, getting the ball out of the back line and moving it forward was pretty impressive.
"One of the positives is when you lose you throw the microscope over it critically and you have a more honest look at yourself.
"We are pretty disappointed to have lost but we've played them twice now, won one, lost one."
Warrnambool is sweating on injuries to key defender Sam Wilson (hamstring) and teenager Zacc Dwyer (broken finger).
Koroit midfielder James Gow (corked calf) came off the ground in the third term but played the game out to be among the Saints' best.
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