Geelong vs St Kilda: AFL live scores, blog
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The curtain may officially be drawn on a golden era in St Kilda’s history when they fight to stay in the finals hunt against Geelong tonight at Etihad Stadium. Join us for live scores and blog from 7:30pm tonight.
St Kilda (10-9, tenth) has only ever won one flag and it was way back in 1966 and by a solitary point.
So this current group of Saints that has played in three losing Grand Finals in the last four years would have to rank as one of the greatest ever to don red, white and black.
St Kilda has played finals seven times since 2004, and in each season since 2008, but they probably won’t feature in September action in 2012 unless they win each of their last three matches.
And the task is made harder by the fact they are without captain and spiritual leader Nick Riewoldt who injured a knee last week.
Tonight, the Saints face a resurgent Cats outfit that in recent weeks has emerged as the knock-out premiership hope.
The double chance is out the window for Geelong (12-7, seventh) but victories in the last month over top four Adelaide and Hawthorn, and eighth-placed Essendon, along with a narrow, undermanned loss against the Eagles in Perth last week give Cat fans hope of a fourth premiership since 2007.
The Cats are playing their best footy since they won the flag by seven goals last September and tonight they welcome back five premiership players – Norm Smith medallist in a winning Grand Final against St Kilda Paul Chapman is joined by Joel Corey, Josh Hunt, James Kelly and Trent West as ins.
The Cats lose gun youngster Allen Christensen to a groin. Veteran ruckman Orren Stephensen played with a broken hand last week and will nurse that injury from the sidelines tonight. Inexperienced duo Cameron Guthrie and Jackson Sherrington join an omitted David Wojcinski as the other outs.
Last week the Cats were six points adrift of the Eagles at the end but having lost Tom Hawkins in the first quarter to concussion, and playing without the injured Kelly, Chapman and Corey, lacked the firepower to get the job done.
Arguably the competition’s leading power forward, Hawkins has been passed fit to start and the return of Corey, Chapman and Kelly to the midfield will be a massive boost for the Cats.
The Saints come into this match on the back of a five-goal win over Melbourne at the MCG last Saturday night. Seven days prior, the Saints were desperately unlucky to escape without at least a draw against competition heavyweights Collingwood – a blatantly incorrect umpiring decision costing St Kilda an almost-certain equalising goal and the opportunity to win the match from the ensuing central restart.
As mentioned above, Riewoldt is out for the Saints and Scott Watters will be hoping for another bag from former Eagle Beau Wilkes (who starred last week) to fill the void. Tom Ledger and Sam Dunell are dropped for this game.
They are replaced by the more accomplished Adam Schneider and Farren Ray. Utility tall Jason Blake brings height to a Saints team that will miss Riewoldt’s presence.
St Kilda still has a quality midfield that thrives at Docklands. Leigh Montagna, Brendon Goddard, Lenny Hayes and Nick Dal Santo are more than capable of causing plenty of problems for the Cats and the Saints would only need three of those four to have big nights to be in with a huge chance of victory.
I’m tipping Geelong tonight. The Cats are beginning to warm into finals. They’ve generally got the better of St Kilda over the last five years and I expect that trend to continue tonight.
Geelong by 20 points.
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