Saints aim to stop Carlton surge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints aim to stop Carlton surge

By Roger Vaughan 11/06/2009 07:53:57 PM Comments (0)

Having maintained their unbeaten AFL record through a month of hard slog, St Kilda now aim to snuff out Carlton's mid-season surge.

The Blues have climbed to fourth after winning their last two games and Saints coach Ross Lyon is wary of Carlton's highly-rated midfield ahead of Friday night's big match at Etihad Stadium.

Lyon notes that sides have tried different methods to stop St Kilda, so far without success.

The weekend's win over North Melbourne was the first time in four games St Kilda had scored more than 100 points, a sign of the grinding duels that the Saints have mastered.

"We've come up against some teams, their focus has been more negative, just to stop us, a lot of holding and grappling," Lyon said.

"All of a sudden we're becoming high-stoppage games - on the weekend, I think it was 118 when we average about 80.

"We've dealt with a number of tactics - attacking teams, negative teams - what we think we'll get on Friday night is two really exciting midfields up against each other.

"It's which team provides the quality entries to their forwards will probably come out on top."

But Lyon notes that Geelong, the other unbeaten side, have faced similar challenges this year.

"There's teams (who) think `we can't go with them, so we'll just negate them' and it becomes a dour, intense struggle," he said.

"It's probably limited our scoring a little bit, we still scored over 100 points on the weekend.

"Geelong get different things thrown at them every week ... you've just got to have an ability to adapt."

The Saints will have to adapt again in the ruck, with Steven King out for four weeks on a rough conduct suspension.

Michael Gardiner returns from his one-week ban, meaning he and 19-year-old Ben McEvoy will share the ruckwork.

This will be McEvoy's third senior game this year and Lyon said he has a lot to prove.

"Ben isn't guaranteed anything - he'll get a run this week and if he holds his end up, he gets another one," Lyon said.

"But it's up to him to perform, otherwise we'll look at other options."

Apart from Gardiner's return, the Saints also regained Stephen Milne and Sam Gilbert from injury, while the Blues promoted Jordan Bannister.

Max Hudghton will also play his second senior game of the season after returning from injury and Lyon said he will be part of St Kilda's plan for Blues full-forward Brendan Fevola.

"He'll obviously get an opportunity to play on Fevola at times, as well Zac (Dawson) and maybe Sam Fisher - try to work off him," Lyon said.

Lyon said this game would be another high-profile test for the Saints in a so-far successful season.

"We're really excited ... there's another top-four team and a real challenge," he said.

"We're really keen to perpetuate how we're going, but we need to improve our ball use and our entries (into 50m).

"We know that the last 11 games are going to count for nothing once the ball is bounced."

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