AFL coaches unite to laud St Kilda - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL coaches unite to laud St Kilda

By John Salvado & Adam Cooper 12/05/2009 04:48:36 PM Comments (0)

The coaches of St Kilda's latest victims, their next opponents and the raging flag favourites all agree - the Saints are the real deal in 2009.

St Kilda returned to the top of the AFL ladder on Monday night with a record 88-point demolition of Collingwood.

Courtesy of a remarkable percentage of 208.2, the Saints sit above fellow unbeaten outfit Geelong, with the pair already three games clear of the chasing pack.

The under-manned Magpies were never in the hunt at Etihad Stadium, booting just five goals in what was their biggest-ever loss to the Saints in 205 clashes dating back to 1897.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said St Kilda's intensity had been outstanding and his side didn't handle it well.

"I'm mystified why people had written them off," said Malthouse.

"(Nick) Riewoldt's 26, and they've missed the boat? ... they're a very, very good football side."

It was an opinion shared by Essendon coach Matthew Knights who was taking notes from the stands at Etihad Stadium ahead of the Bombers' upcoming clash with the Saints at the same venue on Sunday.

"Their form line in the first part of the year has been impeccable," Knights said on Tuesday.

"They're obviously up there with Geelong as the two best teams in the comp at the moment.

"They're very formidable and ... they're getting continuity and consistency in their team.

"They're very mature in age and body so they've got a lot of good areas covered in their game at the moment."

Knights said the round-one grand final replay between Geelong and Hawthorn was still the best game he had seen in 2009, but that did not detract from the giant strides taken by the Saints.

"I think St Kilda are pretty close to the Cats, I really do," he said.

"The Cats are a super team but the Saints are making up ground."

The miserly Saints are conceding only 54 points per game in 2009, nearly four goals less per match than second-ranked Geelong.

But Cats coach Mark Thompson noted there was a lot more to St Kilda's dominance than their defensive skills.

"They are playing terrific footy, they are moving the ball really quickly, their attacking set-ups are as good as anybody's," he said.

"We certainly are (playing closer attention to them), you have to, you have to look at the better teams in the competition and what they are doing."

The bookmakers were suitably impressed with St Kilda's massive win over Collingwood, with Sportingbet trimming their flag odds to $4, behind only Geelong at $2.

St Kilda are even shorter with TAB Sportsbet at $3.80, with Geelong at $1.95.

Having won only three of their opening seven games, Hawthorn have eased out in premiership betting to $7.50 at Sportingbet and $7 at TAB Sportsbet.

But Saints coach Ross Lyon was predictably toning down expectations ahead of Sunday's encounter with fifth-placed Essendon.

"There's a benchmark team in the competition and it's called Geelong," he said.

"They've won 48 out of 50 (actually it's 49 of 52) so we've got another 41 to try to catch them."

"We love the fact that we're winning, no doubt about that," added Lyon.

" ... there's teams who have expectations set by the media and the general public, the fans, but just because they've said it doesn't make it right or accurate.

"Fremantle were written off and they've won three in a row, so just because the expectation was set low for them didn't make it correct.

"Just because the expectation is going to be set high for us, it's just an opinion.

"Seven and zero is going to count for zero when they bounce the ball against Essendon, so we're acutely aware of that."

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