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We are set to learn a bit more about two premiership contenders when the Adelaide Crows host an in form St Kilda at AAMI Stadium tonight. Join us for live scores and a blog from 8:30pm AEST.
Adelaide comes into this match in fifth position – outside of the top four on percentage after having a bye last week – with plenty of confidence after a brilliant 8-2 start to the season under new coach Brenton Sanderson.
The bye looks to have come at a good time for the Crows. This young Adelaide team were beginning to show a few signs of fatigue after being over-run by Collingwood in the final quarter at home three weeks ago before taking four quarters to dispose of an out-of-form Fremantle at Subi a fortnight back.
Sanderson has made three changes for tonight. Backman Graham Jockcock has a back problem while Bernie Vince is suspended. Brodie Smith has been omitted.
They are replaced by goal-sneak Chris Knights, outside midfielder David McKay and Brodie Martin.
Adelaide’s resurgence this season has been built on the back of both an improved effort in midfield and a functioning forward line. Star on-baller Patrick Dangerfield and key tall Taylor Walker have been the standouts for ‘the pride of South Australia’ in season 2012.
Last year, teams off the bye had a one-in-three winning strike rate but that record improved from a low percentage as the season wore on. Against a St Kilda team on the six-day break, it will be interesting to see how the Crows fair tonight.
The Saints will fancy their chances. After an indifferent start under the reign of rookie coach Scott Watters, St Kilda has been fantastic in the last two months.
They’ve won four and lost four in that period but the Saints have been at a high level on each occasion. Last week they disposed of a hapless Gold Coast outfit by 95 points at Metricon.
Their star midfield, clearly benefitting from the return of Lenny Hayes, is once again playing at the standard that helped send the team from Seaford to three grand finals in two seasons under Ross Lyon.
Crucially, captain Nick Riewoldt appears to be back to his best form after kicking seven goals against the Suns last week.
If St Kilda (6-5 eighth) are to win tonight they are going to need to overcome a poor record at Footy Park.
The Saints have an atrocious record at the home of South Australian football. Since the beginning of 2010, St Kilda has lost four of their five matches at AAMI Stadium. Their only victory was against the woeful 2011 Port Adelaide side.
In their round one visit to Adelaide, St Kilda was beaten by four points by Port.
Watters has made two key changes for this clash. The Saints will benefit from the return of first-choice ruckman Ben McEvoy and star defender Sam Fisher.
Youngsters Tom Simpkin and Jack Newnes make way.
The midfield battle is going to be worth watching tonight.
St Kilda’s midfield is star studded. The likes of Dal Santo, Hayes, Goddard, Armitage, Montagna and Jones will provide a big test for this young, improving Adelaide on-ball brigade.
And the victor of that battle in the middle of the ground may well be the victor on the scoreboard.
Tonight I’m tipping the Crows. There’ll be a big crowd cheering them on and St Kilda don’t usually bring their best footy to Adelaide.
Crows by 20 points.