• Match preview: St Kilda Saints v. Sydney Swans

    By Alison Zell

    Saturday May 26, 4.40pm, Etihad Stadium



    B: Jason Gram, Sam Gilbert, Jason Blake
    HB: Sean Dempster, James Gwilt, Jarryn Geary
    C: Jamie Cripps, Lenny Hayes, Brendon Goddard
    HF: Jack Steven, Nick Riewoldt, David Armitage
    F: Stephen Milne, Tom Simpkin, Leigh Montagna
    Foll: Justin Koschitzke, Nick Dal Santo, Clinton Jones

    I/C: Farren Ray, Arryn Siposs, Ahmed Saad, Terry Milera

    Emg: Raphael Clarke, Adam Schneider, Beau Wilkes

    In: James Gwilt, Arryn Siposs
    Out: Rhys Stanley (hamstring), Beau Wilkes


    B: Nicholas Smith, Ted Richards, Rhyce Shaw
    HB: Nick Malceski, Heath Grundy, Martin Mattner
    C: Lewis Jetta, Kieren Jack, Jarrad McVeigh
    HF: Ryan O'Keefe, Tommy Walsh, Daniel Hannebery
    F: Ben McGlynn, Sam Reid, Lewis Roberts-Thomson
    Foll: Mike Pyke, Josh P. Kennedy, Jude Bolton

    I/C: Craig Bird, Trent Dennis-Lane, Luke Parker, Alex Johnson

    Emg: Jesse White, Andrejs Everitt, Tony Armstrong

    No change

    Last week:

    The Saints fought hard in their loss against the Eagles in Perth last Sunday, conceding a big lead early but fighting back before eventually going down to the ladder-leaders by 30 points. They were stung by an early injury to ruckman Rhys Stanley which left Koschitzke and Blake shouldering the ruck load for much of the game. Their small forwards in Milne, Saad and Milera failed to fire, scoring just three goals between them, but the trio have proven this year just how dangerous they can be. Montagna (26 possessions and four clearances) and Hayes (28 possessions) were back to their best while Riewoldt finished with four goals. The loss puts the Saints just out of the eight with four wins and four losses for the year but the injury to Stanley, who joins McEvoy on the sidelines, will hurt them.

    The Swans had a much easier time against the Demons with a 101-point thumping of the dismal Dees. Although they didn?t have much competition, the Swans put in an all-round team effort, chasing and tackling to the end. The introduction of Walsh to the forward line looked to be a step in the right direction with the Irishman providing much-needed assistance for struggling forward Sam Reid, who seemed to get some touch back playing further up the ground. Plenty of goals were spread amongst the midfielders with Parker, Kennedy, Jack and Jetta scoring three apiece while Walsh chimed in with two on debut. Jack looked back to his best and Jetta, the Swans? leading goal-kicker, just keeps improving as the Swans pushed back into the top four with a 6-2 record.

    Last time they met:

    Last season?s elimination final was a memorable match for Swans fans when they won their first night game at Etihad Stadium in a decade as they defeated the Saints by 25 points. It was a tight game for three quarters with Ryan O?Keefe the standout for the Swans with 21 possessions and four goals. Goodes and Mumford chipped in with two each while Richards got the better of Riewoldt on the night. The Swans will be without Mumford and Goodes for this week?s clash but the Saints ? under new coach Scott Watters ? will sorely miss injured ruckman McEvoy, who was their standout in last year?s final.

    The game:

    Much has been made of Lenny Hayes? 250 game milestone this week, with the Saints? coach making sure that all his players know the significance of the occasion: ?Every player knows that this is Lenny's 250th ? throughout the week, if they?ve thought about that ... reflected on that to a degree, then that's a great thing.? With words such as ?champion? regularly used to describe the veteran saint, St Kilda will be out to make sure this is a game to remember for one of the club?s favourite sons.

    But almost lost amongst the Hayes hype is that one of the Swans? own will reach a just-as-significant milestone as defensive stalwart Marty Mattner plays his 200th game. ?He?s really underrated outside of the Swans but inside the Swans his role on game day is really respected and he?s just a really great guy to have down with you in defence,? said teammate Ted Richards. ?He?ll often unselfishly come off his opponent to help us out and often things like that aren?t really noticed by people outside of the club, but we definitely respect the role that he plays there.?

    The Saints? record this year probably doesn?t reflect the football they have been playing and although they have experienced a change of coach, their team list remains much the same. The additions of Saad and Milera have given them some unpredictability in the forward line and Riewoldt is now no longer their only avenue to goal. They are definitely suffering in the ruck department and will be relying on Blake and Koschitzke again, although their defence is bolstered by the return of Gwilt.

    The Swans have gone into this game unchanged after some promising signs from their new-look forward line with the additions of Dennis-Lane and Walsh and a great spread of goals amongst the midfielders. Pyke was competitive against Jamar and it will be interesting to see his progression as he again lines up as the Swans? number one ruckman. The Saints? smalls will need to be well held and with the Swans looking a little tall down back, we may see the hard working Johnson don the sub vest.

    Key match-ups:

    Kieren Jack v. Lenny Hayess

    Hayes has the ability to dominate and set the game up for the Saints and Jack showed he was back to his explosive best last week against the Demons. While they may not line up on each other, they are equally as valuable to their side?s fortunes. With the continual improvement of young Swans Parker and Hannebery and the emergence of Kennedy as one of the game?s most in-form midfielders, the Swans should shade the Saints in this area. But they will need to be at their defensive best to ensure they are not burned the rebound.

    Sam Reid/Tommy Walsh v. Sam Gilbert/James Gwilt

    Debutant Tommy Walsh did everything asked of him last week, providing a solid target up forward for the Swans and chipping in with two nice goals. The former Saint will be keen to put on a good show against his old club who wouldn?t give him a game. His inclusion allowed Reid to play further up the ground and the longer the game went on last week, the more at ease Reid seemed, slotting a nice goal late. St Kilda will be pleased to have Gwilt back for his first game this season and the Swans young forwards will find it tough against the experienced Saints back half.

    Mike Pyke v. Justin Koschitzke

    It?s the battle of the second-string rucks as Pyke, in just his second game for the year, takes on Koschitzke who, while serviceable, is not really a number one ruckman. It seems quite an equal contest and if one man can get on top, it may go a long way to deciding the game.

    Where the game will be won:

    Neither team have their first choice ruckmen in for this game and so it may well come down to the team that can shark the most clearances, in a tight and tough midfield battle these two sides love. The Saints were widely tipped to slide down the ladder after the departure of Ross Lyon last year and while not pushing up the ladder, they have remained competitive. After their debacle at the MCG two weeks ago, the Swans will be keen to put in a better performance for their Melbourne fans and although the Saints will lift for club legend Hayes, the Swans seem too strong across the ground.


    Swans by 24.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. ScottH's Avatar
      ScottH -
      Another excellent preview, Alison.
    1. Frog's Avatar
      Frog -
      Thank you Alison.
    1. Primmy's Avatar
      Primmy -
      Nice one Alison.
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