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There’s still a chance for St Kilda to make the finals, but they’ll need to get past premiership contenders Collingwood to keep their September dreams alive. Live scores will kick off from 7.40pm AEST.
Collingwood had a cruisy game last week against GWS Giants and rested a few of their stars to get them cherry ripe for the run home to the finals.
As a result, this week’s team is pretty much their best 22 that’s available with Dale Thomas, Harry O’Brien, Darren Jolly, Steele Sidebottom and Sharrod Wellingham all making a welcome return.
While there have been a couple of losses of late to Carlton and Hawthorn, this should start to settle the side in the lead up to September.
Travis Cloke managed six goals last week against the GWS Giants. But, you would expect him to do that.
Can he do something similar tonight against Sam Fisher, Sean Dempster and James Gwilt? It’s a much better defensive line compared to the youngsters at the Giants.
With all the talk surrounding his poor form amongst the contract talks, Cloke needs a good performance against a finals contender to keep the focus on the footy.
While the Pies and Saints have had some good battles in the last couple of years, most notably the 2010 Grand Final draw, the Pies have the last four wins on the board.
Also a big advantage to Collingwood this week is being at the MCG, a venue St Kilda doesn’t play enough.
In fact, it’s just the third game of the year at the MCG for St Kilda – their last game was their loss in round six to Hawthorn by 35 points.
The Saints are coming off a pretty good month of football and timing their run perfectly towards the finals. They’ve had big wins against Essendon and the Bulldogs, winning on the road in Brisbane, while pushing Sydney in Sydney most of the way.
Farren Ray comes into the line up to provide some much needed run through the midfield, to help keep the forwards dangerous.
In fact, it’s a wealth of riches in the forward line of late. Small forwards Ahmed Saad, Terry Milera, Adam Schneider and Beau Wilkes all pressing claims for a spot in the team. This week Schneider gets a breather while Milera is spending a little time in the VFL.
Compared to last season under the regime of Ross Lyon, the Saints have been allowed to play naturally. That’s why they average 106 points per game, because the players that are there are much better under Scott Watters than with the laborious nature of Lyon.
Nick Riewoldt has kicked 44 goals this season, Justin Koschitzke has 24. The spread of goals has made it tough for some teams to accurately match up on them.
But, can they find the freedom against a solid Collingwood defence? If they can, we could be in for a shoot out that could have massive implications on the top eight.