The Saints have strayed from the script, hoping to write a quick fast-track to the dizzing high’s of 2009 and 2010. It seemed that their older players were getting on and the rebuild was imminent. This has changed greatly this season. The hunt for the eight is on, and they can almost taste it. The Dogs are now out of finals contention, but the kids are willing to get their hands dirty, despite a lack of polish and skill that comes with experience.
WHY SHOULD YOU TUNE IN:
St.Kilda: The Saints midfield and older bodies now need to bring themselves to forefront more than ever. The Dogs mids, which are an older and mature bunch, rely on winning contested ball. After Lenny Hayes’ brilliant comeback year, him and Dal Santo must be prepared to use their hardness and class around the contests. The last result was not as one sided as the scoreboard suggests, as the Dogs won more clearances and had more inside 50s. The Saints must not even allow those opportunities for the Dogs or it could go pear-shaped.
The Saints were smashed in the ruck last week, losing the hit-outs 61-36 and the discrepancy probably would have been much higher but for Shane Mumford’s injury. Ben McEvoy has been holding the fort but has had little help since Rhys Stanley has been out injured.
Western Bulldogs: Another flying start would be handy. In the opening three minutes against Carlton last week, the Bulldogs kicked the first two goals and didn’t even let the Blues touch the ball. A similarly ferocious approach will be required to unsettle the Saints, who also lost on the weekend after making a strong start.
The Bulldogs achieved a better spread of contributors in the midfield against Carlton. Skipper Matthew Boyd usually supplies the most possessions – and often by a considerable margin – but the Dogs struck a better balance against the Blues, with Boyd (25) eclipsed by four teammates – Ryan Griffen (28), Tom Liberatore (28), Daniel Cross (26) and Mitch Wallis (26).
The Saints need this one more than the Dogs. The cream will rise to the top in a tough encounter, with the Dogs just not having enough class for the Saints.
Saints by 29.