Ben Reid is a tower of strength at the back for the Magpies. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/Michael Dodge/News Limited
Last Five Meetings
Round 19, 2012 – Collingwood Magpies 91 d St Kilda Saints 85 (MCG)
Round 21, 2011 – Collingwood Magpies 89 d St Kilda Saints 70 (Etihad)
Round 11, 2011 – Collingwood Magpies 108 d St Kilda Saints 51 (MCG)
GF Replay, 2010 – Collingwood Magpies 108 d St Kilda Saints 52 (MCG)
GF, 2010 – Collingwood Magpies 68 drew with St Kilda Saints 68 (MCG)
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The fortunes of these two teams have been markedly different since Collingwood triumphed in their grand final replay in 2010. While the ‘Pies remain among the AFL’s elite, the Saints will be fighting tooth and nail this season to even be in the hunt for a top eight spot.
Collingwood will be missing hard-working defender Alan Toovey, who has ruptured the ACL in his left knee, for the rest of the season. That’s concerning when you lose a player who is the heart and soul of your team, but what would be equally as worrying for Nathan Buckley is his team’s fadeouts in its two losses to Hawthorn and Essendon. The Hawks piled on seven goals in the final term in round 3 and then Essendon kicked away with six in the fourth quarter in the ‘Pies 46-point loss on ANZAC Day. The Magpies welcome back veterans Andrew Krakouer and Darren Jolly this week, while draft selection Ben Kennedy is set to start in the forward line.
St Kilda, would, of course, love to even be in a winning position against any of the league’s top teams right now. A ledger reading one win and four losses doesn’t look good, especially when the Saints have played just one team that played in the 2012 finals series. Nick Riewoldt has been an absolute standout so far, and his phenomenal workrate was against evident against Sydney where he finished with 27 disposals, 13 marks, seven tackles and two goals. He could use some help up forward, though, especially with a niggling knee injury, but he’ll at least have Stephen Milne back from suspension this week.
(Magpies) Ben Reid – No matter what superlatives you use, it would be hard to sum up how good Nick Riewoldt really was in a losing effort in Wellington. One man who has the ability to follow the Saints star gut-busting run after gut-busting run is Collingwood backman Ben Reid. St Kilda hasn’t beaten the ‘Pies in six matches, and in those games Riewoldt has averaged just 12 touches, six marks and one goal per game. Alright numbers for most players, but well down on what you would expect from one of the elite players in the game, and Reid can take much of the kudos for keeping him quiet.
(Saints) Jarryn Geary – He’s hardly a headline grabber, but since Scott Watters took over at the Saints, Jarryn Geary has proven himself to be a very handy defender. Not only is he adept at looking after some of the AFL’s best small forwards, he is also a ball-winner, himself. Gives St Kilda plenty of run and is a good creator from the back half of the field.
Take out the 72-point shellacking of GWS and the Saints are averaging just 78 points per game this season. It’s a far cry from last season when Scott Watters’ team was averaging 107 points per game. The simple fact of the matter is St Kilda is struggling to find avenues to goal, and that’s even with Nick Riewoldt in a purple patch of form. The Magpies aren’t really setting the world on fire at the moment, but they’ve disposed of three fringe top eight teams so far – North Melbourne, Carlton and Richmond – so why not throw a fourth in for good measure? Even slightly down on manpower, the ‘Pies still have too many weapons in the middle and a big bloke named Travis Cloke who shouldn’t produce two ordinary games in a row. Magpies by 22 points
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