Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin will target improving his team’s ball use during a timely bye for the AFL ladder leaders following a shock defeat.
Following an impressive win over the Giants in the west of Sydney last week, St Kilda will take on Melbourne in Saturday night’s blockbuster at Marvel Stadium.
Both teams are coming off victories last week, as Melbourne were too good for Fremantle at the MCG.
People were worried about St Kilda’s chances with a lot of injuries when they travelled to face Greater Western Sydney. But they were good enough to fight back late to get over the line by eight points.
It was a win that could set up the season for the Saints, who were without nearly half of their best 22, including Max King, Paddy Ryder, Rowan Marshall and Brad Crouch.
The players that really stood out in the Saints upset win included Tim Membrey, who had 21 disposals, 15 kicks, six handballs, seven marks and three goals.
Jack Higgins had an impressive debut in Saints colours, gathering 12 disposals, eight kicks and three goals.
Jack Billings could easily have been considered the Saints’ standout player, gathering 30 disposals, 15 kicks, 15 handballs, five marks and a goal.
Finally, Jade Gresham was fantastic with 28 disposals, 21 kicks and seven handballs.
Melbourne were also on target in a positive display against Fremantle last week at the MCG. They were one step ahead for all of the afternoon.
Down forward they were driven by the leadership of Tom McDonald, Christian Petracca and Bayley Fritsch, who each kicked two goals.
Some other excellent contributors for the Dees included Clayton Oliver, with 35 disposals, ten kicks and 25 handballs, Steven May, with 24 disposals, 21 of which were kicks, and eight marks, and Nathan Jones, with 18 disposals, nine kicks and nine handballs.
This could be a crunch game for both teams, as the winner will come out with a 2-0 start, in a season where both sides are expected to make the finals.
St Kilda have had the wood over Melbourne in recent times, winning three of the last four clashes. However, last year Melbourne ended a run of three straight losses, winning a close thriller by three points in the Northern Territory.
The advantage for the Saints is that they have proven they can win without a significant amount of their best 22 available. An even bigger advantage was that it was away from home.
This week they will return to their home in Marvel Stadium and will get a chance to play in front of their home fans for the first time since August 2019. They will also be buoyed by the return of Max King to the forward line, making more of their best 22 available.
St Kilda have a perfect opportunity to set themselves up as one of the in-form teams of the competition, with very winnable opportunities to follow this game, including another three consecutive games to follow at Marvel Stadium.
They face Essendon, who are struggling, before a clash against West Coast and a challenge in the reigning premiers Richmond. The Saints are full of confidence and should get the job done in what will be an enthralling Saturday night contest.
Prediction: Saints by 25 points.