Nick Riewoldt has been well held by the Swans in recent meetings. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/Getty Images
Last Five Meetings
Round 17, 2012 – Sydney Swans 105 d St Kilda Saints 76
Round 9, 2012 – St Kilda Saints 111 d Sydney Swans 83
EF, 2011 – Sydney Swans 82 d St Kilda Saints 57
Round 22, 2011 – Sydney Swans 83 d St Kilda Saints 68
Round 1, 2010 – St Kilda Saints 96 d Sydney Swans 88
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Both of these teams got somewhat of a reality check in round 4. After three relatively smooth victories to start the season, Sydney was caught in a shootout with Geelong, and as even Hawthorn will attest to, not many teams beat the Cats in that sort of contest. On the Saints’ side, a win the week before over GWS meant little taking on the hottest team in the AFL in Essendon, as the Bombers cruised to a 37-point victory .
You can throw ground records in the bin looking at form for this encounter, with the teams coming together at Westpac Stadium in Wellington for the first clash with premiership points on the line to be played outside of Australia. Sydney travelled well last season winning seven of ten matches outside of the Harbour City. With such a fast-flowing game against Geelong, some of the Swans’ ball-winners like Josh Kennedy went missing with so few stoppages. As much as the Bloods are a more forward-oriented team under John Longmire, it was their defence that won them the premiership last season and it would be a surprise to see them cut open two weeks in a row.
The Saints achieved something few teams did last season, a win over Sydney. But that victory masked the problems St Kilda had beating the league’s better teams under new coach Scott Watters. That upset of the Swans was the only triumph they had against a top eight side in 2012, and until they get on top of the top teams regularly, this remodelled Saints outfit won’t have the same level of respect as its predecessors. They’ll be without forward Beau Maister for the next 4-6 weeks after he broke his wrist against the Bombers, while Stephen Milne has copped a one-match ban for misconduct.
(St Kilda) Ben McEvoy – The Bombers were in the enviable position of being able to bring David Hille in last week when Patrick Ryder was suspended, and the tag-team of him and Tom Bellchambers eventually wore the one-man band of Ben McEvoy down last Saturday. He is as good as almost any ruckman in the competition around the ground, but the Saints will struggle at stoppages if he continues to battle against ruck duos, and he has a tough job fighting it out with Shane Mumford and the much-improved Mike Pyke on Thursday.
(Swans) Ted Richards – Saints star Nick Riewoldt has started the season looking somewhat like the player of old. He is averaging three goals and nine marks per game, but his recent record against St Kilda isn’t anywhere near as good, and that comes down, primarily, to the work of fullback Ted Richards. Riewoldt has kicked just five majors in his last four starts against the Swans All-Australian, and with Beau Maister and Stephen Milne missing, the Queenslander will be an even greater target for Sydney’s defenders in the Saints’ forward 50.
St Kilda headed interstate six times last season and came up trumps just twice, on both visits to south east Queensland. The Saints are also coming off just a five-day break, having played the Bombers on Saturday night. The Swannies have won three of the last four clashes with the Saints, and it’s doubtful St Kilda will be able to trouble then by moving the ball anywhere near as quickly through the corridor as the Cats did last Friday night. Sydney only lost six games last season, though, yet twice they had back-to-back losses. Something that’s not likely to be repeated in the land of the long white cloud. Swans by 22 points
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