Matthew Pavlich makes his long-awaited comeback from an Achilles injury on Sunday. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Getty Images
Last Five Matches
Round 4, 2012 – Fremantle 92 d St Kilda 79 at Etihad Stadium
Round 20, 2011 – St Kilda 113 d Fremantle 72 at Etihad Stadium
Round 10, 2011 – St Kilda 102 d Fremantle 56 at Patersons Stadium
Round 12, 2010 – St Kilda 85 d Fremantle 67 at Patersons Stadium
Round 4, 2010 – St Kilda 108 d Fremantle 93 at Etihad Stadium
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Fremantle has done remarkably well without two of its biggest weapons – Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands – grabbing 38 of a possible 52 points in their absence. But the veterans get the chance to condition themselves for a big tilt at the premiership in September when they both return against a sad and sorry looking St Kilda outfit in Perth on Sunday.
The Dockers were well down on troops against Geelong, which explains why they were completely inept moving the ball forward. Midfield keys Michael Barlow and David Mundy both return from short injury lay-offs. It was Freo’s first loss in nine matches but it will still cause concern amongst those who worry about the Dockers’ form away from the west.
St Kilda’s form everywhere has been ordinary this year, and with a backline decimated by injury, the Saints were put to the sword by Richmond last weekend. In their last six starts, their only points came in a scrappy win over Melbourne, which pretty much sums up the Saints’ season. The Saints’ ability to kick a decent score has been dealt a blow with Nick Riewoldt rested due to general soreness. Lenny Hayes bolsters the midfielder, though, after coming back from a calf injury.
(Dockers) Michael Walters – The Dockers have missed having a true marking forward this season, but even with Matthew Pavlich’s return, Michael Walters is still one of the key elements to this team. The small forward was in sublime form prior to an ankle injury keeping him out for a month. In just his second game last weekend, he kicked three of Freo’s seven goals against the Cats. With Pavlich providing a contest and bringing the ball to ground, there should be even more opportunities for this livewire.
(Saints) David Armitage – There is a changing of the guard going on in St Kilda’s midfield, as some of the club’s veterans move towards retirement. The likes of Jack Steven and David Armitage lead the next generation of mids coming through. He still lacks the consistency of the likes of Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna , but he has lifted his possession stats again on 2012. He averages almost six disposals less per game in losses compared to wins, though, so the Saints will need a big performance from the Queensland left-footer if they’re to get home.
The Saints have won just one their four games outside of Melbourne this season, and in no great shock at all, that victory came over GWS. Losses to fringe top eight sides Adelaide and Gold Coast don’t bode well for the long trip to Perth to take on the best defensive side in the competition, and one that will be buoyed by the return of two of its superstars. St Kilda could only manage 55 against Richmond last weekend, and they’ll be lucky to even get close to that against Freo. Fremantle by 42 points .
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