Brett Goodes has been impressive in his debut AFL season. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/Michael Klein/Herald Sun
Last Five Meetings
Round 18, 2012 – St Kilda 118 d Western Bulldogs 42 (Etihad Stadium)
Round 3, 2012 – St Kilda 103 d Western Bulldogs 40 (Etihad Stadium)
Round 12, 2011 – St Kilda 81 d Western Bulldogs 57 (Etihad Stadium)
Preliminary Final, 2010 – St Kilda 88 d Western Bulldogs 64 (MCG)
Round 6, 2010 – St Kilda 49 d Western Bulldogs 46 (MCG)
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Take out the anomaly that was the 68-point round one win over Brisbane, and the Western Bulldogs have lost 18 straight games. It’s a scary statistic, even heading in to a clash with another fallen former heavyweight, St Kilda , which is in a rebuilding stage with just two wins to its credit in 2013. The sad fact of the matter is that they haven’t even been getting close, with the 21-point loss to a Geelong side in second gear in round five the narrowest margin in seven losses on the bounce.
The Bulldogs had their chances against the Suns last weekend, but after leading at half-time , they were blown away by the hosts thanks mainly to a seven-goal third term. It’s the usual suspects at the top of the stats sheet every week, with Matthew Boyd , Ryan Griffen and a rejuvenated Adam Cooney getting their hands on the footy, but there just isn’t enough to back them up. Cooney will miss this week’s clash due to a hamstring injury while veteran midfielder Daniel Cross has been omitted.
After beating an injury-depleted Carlton side in round seven, the Saints were brought back to earth with a thud after a six-day break against Adelaide, going down by 40 points . After showing a greater inclination to move the ball forward quickly last season under new coach Scott Watters, St Kilda is averaging just 66 points per game over the past month, despite the best efforts of the indefatigable Nick Riewoldt . Inspirational midfielder Lenny Hayes returns for pacy forward Terry Milera.
(Saints) Jack Steven – Not surprisingly, Jack Steven’s two best games this season have come in the Saints’ two victories. He was highly influential against Carlton a fortnight back with 39 touches, six marks and seven tackles, and he posted good numbers against GWS, as well. In the other six matches he has been good without being great, much like many of his teammates. The one area the Bulldogs may have the edge is in the midfield, but Steven and the in-form Leigh Montagna should ensure the Saints win enough ball in the clinches to see their side home.
(Bulldogs) Brett Goodes – Seriously, you have to ask how Brett Goodes managed to make it to age 29 before making his AFL debut. He has looked incredibly comfortable across the Bulldogs back half this season, despite his defence being under siege regularly. He returned from a two-match suspension to be one of his club’s best against the Gold Coast, and he is averaging an impressive 21 disposals and six marks per game across the first six games of his AFL career.
The Bulldogs had four winnable games heading in to the bye, but back-to-back losses against North Melbourne and the Gold Coast have sent their season spiralling further in to the abyss. The difference between these sides is that St Kilda has at least been competitive against most sides, even if it is struggling to get wins on the board. The senior players at the ‘Dogs will need to get some serious help from its middle tier of players if they’re to collect the four points. St Kilda has won eight straight against the Bulldogs, and that was against far better outfits then Brendan McCartney’s current crop. Saints by 22 points
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