Matthew Boyd will take on the Saints. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/The Daily Telegraph
It hasn’t taken long for the Saints and Bulldogs to fall from the upper echelon of the AFL, but things appear far more bleak at St Kilda these days than they do in Melbourne’s western suburbs. While the Bulldogs have a stack of young talent and appear set for another march up the ladder, the Saints look set for a long couple of years as the club rebuilds under new coach Alan Richardson.
Both clubs are using their opening NAB Challenge clash to give a sprinkling of new talent a taste at senior level. Each side also has a stack of AFL veterans coming in to their teams in 2014, and it is these players that will attract the most attention on Wednesday night. None more so than former Essendon forward Stewart Crameri, who is now plying his trade for the Doggies. Given the team’s struggles in putting points on the board at times in the last couple of seasons, the left-footer will be an ideal addition if he can kick 50-odd goals. Established stars Matthew Boyd, Will Minson and Adam Cooney will also play, as will young midfield guns Tom Liberatore and Mitch Wallis.
While the Dogs have rebuilt primarily through the draft – Crameri aside – the Saints have gone down the route of recycling fringe players at other clubs. Livewire Shane Savage was there and thereabouts in Hawthorn’s top 25 the past few seasons without ever really locking down a spot in the senior side, while former Lions ruckman Billy Longer has a ton of potential, befitting the fact he was taken eighth in the 2011 draft. Defenders Luke Delaney, Maverick Weller and Josh Bruce all get a second crack at the AFL, starting with Wednesday night’s game. The Saints will sit Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes, while Dogs match-winner Ryan Griffen is also a non-starter.
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