Details: Etihad Stadium, 7:50pm. Friday April 20.
Broadcast: Live on Channel 7 and Fox Footy; SEN, ABC, Triple M, 3AW.
Odds: St Kilda – $1,40. Fremantle – $3.05
In one of the most anticipated clashes of Round 4, the now purple-clad Ross Lyon will stride down the Etihad boundary and face the angry jeers of thousands of St Kilda faithful.
Lyon, who famously defected from the Saints to the Dockers at the end of 2011, has been coy about the clash – but has also been briefed to expect a baptism of fire after his controversial exit.
Adrian Anderson has urged the St Kilda supporters to put their fury into perspective, while a senior cheersquad member has asserted that, even though physical violence is not the ‘Saints way’, Lyon can expect some deserving vitriol aimed his way.
Despite the Lyon sideshow that will grow as the bounce edges closer, there is a game of football said to be played: And a cracking one at that.
Both sides will come into the clash with two wins on the board. The Saints have defeated the Bulldogs and the Suns, while Fremantle have conquered the Premiers Geelong, and the Brisbane Lions.
Hayden Ballantyne returns for the Dockers after his two weeks suspension for striking Paul Chapman in Round 1 to provide some fire for the purple-brigade. While Nick Riewoldt will look to continue his resurgence that has seen him boot eight goals in the first three rounds after a disappointing 2011.
Scott Watters has provided the Saints with some much needed freedom, but the nature of the sides they have beaten has raised eyebrows. None-the-less, a team can only beat who is put in front of them, and the St Kilda faithful will relish a test of their powers against the firming Fremantle.
Despite what will is likely to play out from inside the coaches box, tonight’s match looms as a highly anticipated clash between two top 8 hopefuls.
Nick Riewoldt vs Luke McPharlin: Despite both of these former champions heading towards the twilight of their respective careers, this matchup will be an important one in the shape of this clash. McPharlin has found new competition for his Full Back role from Lyon’s pet Zac Dawson, while ‘Roo’ has transformed his game from a running role into a more typical key position structure.
Lenny Hayes vs David Mundy: The clearence machines of their respective clubs, Hayes and Mundy will need to be on their toes all night to take advantage of what should be some solid ruckwork under the breeze-free roof at Etihad.
Aaron Sandilands vs Ben McEvoy: Despite the purple giants powers looking waning, he still looms as a formidable opponent for the rising Ben McEvoy.
With Aaron Sandilands facing a still developing Ben McEvoy, you can expect the Dockers to control the stoppages. This control will prove to be vital as it often is in footy, and as a result the Freo forwards should get the best opportunities to convert on the scoreboard.
Fremantle by 10 points.
B: Jarryn Geary, Sam Gilbert, Jason Blake
HB: Tom Simpkin, Sam Fisher, Sean Dempster
C: Nick Dal Santo, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
HF: Jack Steven, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna
F: Stephen Milne, Rhys Stanley, Terry Milera
Foll: Ben McEvoy, David Armitage, Clinton Jones
I/C: Justin Koschitzke, Jamie Cripps, Dean Polo, Jack Newnes
Emg: Farren Ray, Brett Peake, Beau Wilkes
B: Garrick Ibbotson, Zac Dawson, Adam McPhee
HB: Michael Johnson, Luke McPharlin, Tendai Mzungu
C: Paul Duffield, Ryan Crowley, Stephen Hill
HF: Matthew de Boer, Christopher Mayne, Clancee Pearce
F: Hayden Ballantyne, Matthew Pavlich, Zachary Clarke
Foll: Aaron Sandilands, Nathan Fyfe, Nick Suban
I/C: David Mundy, Greg Broughton, Michael Barlow, Lachie Neale
Emg: Kepler Bradley, Dylan Roberton, Jack Anthony
In: Hayden Ballantyne, Lachie Neale
Out: Kepler Bradley, Josh Mellington (Hamstring)
New: Lachie Neale (Glenelg)
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