Lay off Saints midfielders: Riewoldt - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lay off Saints midfielders: Riewoldt

08/04/2008 05:50:37 PM Comments (0)

While critics have been quick to pounce on St Kilda after losing to the fleet-footed Western Bulldogs, captain Nick Riewoldt wants them to lay off star midfielders Nick Dal Santo and Robert Harvey.

The Saints have copped a bashing after they surrendered a 37-point lead to the Dogs at quarter-time before losing by 38 points.

While Riewoldt hoped last Friday night's performance was an "aberration", he said the result should be put into perspective.

Riewoldt said in seven pre-season and regular season matches this year, the Saints had played only three bad quarters of football - all of them against the Bulldogs.

"I think the important thing is to put it in perspective and I think sometimes that can get a bit lost," he said.

Dal Santo came in for some stinging criticism following his 20-possession match.

Ex-Hawthorn champion and five-time premiership player Dermott Brereton also continues to call for Harvey's retirement, saying the game has passed the 36-year-old by.

But Riewoldt was quick to jump to the defence of the pair.

He said people who knocked Dal Santo's effort were "over-reacting" and the pair were not to blame for the Saints' disappointing display after the first break.

"Robert Harvey wasn't the reason St Kilda lost on Friday night, Nick Dal Santo wasn't the reason St Kilda lost on Friday night," Riewoldt said

"It was a team effort and it was a poor team effort."

Riewoldt said the Saints would need to produce a sustained effort if they were to topple reigning premiers Geelong at Telstra Dome this Saturday.

But he promised his team would be much more committed when the ball is in dispute against the Cats after the Dogs soundly beat the Saints in that area of the game.

"Clearly we need to be a lot harder, need to win more contested ball," Riewoldt said.

"You can't expect to win games serving up what we serve in the last three quarters on Friday night so that's what our focus is this week."

"(Geelong) are the benchmark of the competition, we've got nothing but total respect for them, but that being said we're confident going into this week we can match it with them."

The captain dismissed doubts about whether he along with fellow talls Fraser Gehrig and Justin Koschitzke and Riewoldt can co-exist in one forward line, saying it worked in the first quarter against the Dogs.

Riewoldt said if there's some doubt over ruckman Michael Gardiner (calf), he won't be risked this Saturday while Matt Maguire (leg) is expected to play his fourth game for VFL affiliate Casey Scorpions this weekend.

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