Nick Riewoldt has been in superb form this season. Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au/Getty Images
Last Five Meetings
Round 8, 2012 – West Coast Eagles 121 d St Kilda 91 at Patersons Stadium
Round 17, 2011 – St Kilda 82 d West Coast Eagles 61 at Etihad Stadium
Round 9, 2010 – St Kilda 91 d West Coast Eagles 56 at Subiaco Oval
Round 15, 2009 – St Kilda 90 d West Coast Eagles 70 at Subiaco Oval
Round 3, 2009 – St Kilda 161 d West Coast Eagles 64 at Etihad Stadium
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Both of these teams copped absolute shellackings last week against teams that bounced back from disappointing results in round 9. St Kilda and West Coast can both expect to come out firing, but, realistically, the Eagles are the only team still playing for a berth in the AFL finals series, even at the halfway point of the season.
The Eagles have suffered blows at both ends of the ground following their surprise 41-point drubbing by Richmond. Multiple All-Australian selection Darren Glass has been ruled out with a hip injury while classy forward Mark LeCras wasn’t considered due to an arm injury.
The Saints are in desperate need of a win after losing six of their past seven, and they were downright embarrassing in the opening quarter against North Melbourne last week when they allowed the ‘Roos to lead by 55 points at the first change. Sam Fisher misses out with a foot injury, but key forward Beau Maister returns to the line-up.
(Saints) Nick Dal Santo – For so long, Nick Dal Santo has been at the core of a St Kilda side that has regularly found itself amonst the AFL’s elite. It’s no secret his production this year has been well down in previous seasons, but last week against North Melbourne he finally produced some of his better footy of the year, even if it came when the match was well and truly over after the first quarter. He collected 25 touches and seven marks, and the Saints will need similar numbers against West Coast’s ball magnets.
(Eagles) Nic Naitanui – He spent the first part of the season spectating thanks to off-season groin surgery, but Nic Naitanui has certainly sparked the Eagles since coming back in to the line-up. The Flying Fijian wasn’t anywhere near his best against Richmond, but he and Dean Cox still dominated the hitouts against Ivan Maric, and this weekend they’ll face another of the league’s top big men, Ben McEvoy. Naitanui kicked the winning goal against North Melbourne a couple of weeks back, and he’s averaging one per game, which is similar to last season’s numbers.
The Saints have had the wood on the Eagles of late winning four of their last five battles. At Etihad the teams have met nine times with St Kilda coming out on top on five occasions, the Eagles three, with a draw thrown in. Realistically, though, the Saints can’t expect to win until they start making an impact on the scoreboard. Nick Riewoldt averages two goals per game across his career against West Coast, but they’ll need more than that from their inspirational forward. Even without Mark LeCras, West Coast seems to have too many options up forward. After being accused of being slow following the loss to Richmond, you can bet the Eagles midfield will be running as hard as possible all afternoon at Etihad. Eagles by 18 points
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