Coach Damien Hardwick appears to have his side on the right path. Although the ladder may show a side which has only won four games for the season, the brand of play seen by Richmond would no doubt be filling their fanbase with extreme confidence.
They may have lost five times, but they were competitive in all of those and it culminated with a 62 point demolishing of Premiership fancy Hawthorn at the MCG last week.
This has resulted in a lot of hype over the Tiges this week, but they will face an opponent which has been tried and tested on the big stage and seems to be quietly flying under the radar.
New coach Scott Watters has revitalised the club after a disappointing 2011, allowing the Saints youngsters to play with a freedom that was often missing under the latter stages of Ross Lyon’s tenure. The impact of the fresh faces has seen experienced core of the Saints back to their best in recent weeks, leaving tonight’s contest a battle of the youthful exuberance of the Tigers against the experienced smart play of the Saints.
The Midfield Battle
After belting the Hawks’ vaunted midfield last week, Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Brett Deledio, Nathan Foley and Shane Tuck have proven that they are a centre group capable of taking on the leagues best.
They all thrive on the tough, contested ball, an area they will need to excel in if they are to match St Kilda. Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna, David Armitage and Jack Steven comprise a midfield group equally as talented as Richmond’s, making this battle a pivotal one.
Ivan Maric may tip the tide to the Tige’s favour; with St Kilda missing both their ruckman to injuries, but Jason Blake showed last week that he is a capable substitute.
The Small Forwards
Both Jack and Nick Riewoldt will provide the lead up options for their clubs, but it is the small forwards that will decide the contest tonight.
Both sides will look to get numbers in front of the key forwards, leaving an opportunity for forwards such as Jake King, Robin Nahas, Stephen Milne, Terry Milera and Ahmed Saad to have an impact.
Although they won’t be playing anywhere near each other, their play will go a long way to determining a result.
Last week’s victory has seen the Tiger Army at full roar, but the test for them now is to play that type of football on a weekly basis.
As they are a young side, they may struggle in this department, especially against the structured experience that is St Kilda. At the MCG it might be a different matter, but in the tight confines of Etihad, St Kilda should have enough.
St Kilda by 17 points.
B: Jason Gram, Sam Gilbert, Tom Simpkin
HB: Sean Dempster, James Gwilt, Brendon Goddard
C: Nick Dal Santo, Lenny Hayes, Farren Ray
HF: Jack Steven, Nick Riewoldt, Terry Milera
F: Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke, Leigh Montagna
Foll: Jason Blake, David Armitage, Clinton Jones
I/C: Jamie Cripps, Arryn Siposs, Ahmed Saad, Jack Newnes
Emg: Raphael Clarke, Adam Schneider, Beau Wilkes
In: Jack Newnes
Out: Jarryn Geary (Injured)
B: Steven Morris, Alex Rance, Chris Newman
HB: Bachar Houli, Ben Griffiths, Brandon Ellis
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Shane Edwards
HF: Brett Deledio, Tyrone Vickery, Nathan Foley
F: Reece Conca, Jack Riewoldt, Jake King
Foll: Ivan Maric, Trent Cotchin, Shane Tuck
I/C: Daniel Jackson, Robin Nahas, Jake Batchelor, Addam Maric
Emg: Matthew White, Daniel Connors, Brad Miller
In: Jake Batchelor
Out: Matt Dea (Leg)
Milestones: Shane Tuck – 150 games, Jack Riewoldt – 100 games
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