Saints 'overtake Cats as benchmark' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints 'overtake Cats as benchmark'

By Sam Lienert 26/07/2009 10:33:35 AM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says St Kilda have overtaken Geelong as the AFL's benchmark side.

The Saints stretched their unbeaten streak to 17 on Saturday night with a 16.10 (106) to 9.7 (61) win over the third-placed Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

The Dogs came into the match as the competition's highest-scoring side this season and had topped the 100-point mark for the previous 10 rounds straight.

Their only two losses during that stint had been in thrillers against the other members of the top four - by two points to Geelong in round nine and by one point to Collingwood in round 15.

But the Saints continued their extraordinarily stingy defensive record, keeping the Dogs to their lowest score of the season.

Eade said his side hurt their own cause with basic errors.

But he said much of the credit had to go to St Kilda for the pressure they are able to consistently apply to opposition sides.

"Our guys didn't handle the situation at all well, especially the first half," Eade said.

"There was a lot of what I would have termed unforced errors, a lot of fumbles and making incorrect decisions.

"But I think you've got to give full credit to the opposition.

"We were obviously another one of the teams to fall into their pressure, so obviously we've got some work to do."

While Geelong have been the competition's dominant force of the past two seasons and were unbeaten before losing a thriller to the Saints earlier this month, Eade was adamant St Kilda had gone past them.

"St Kilda are (the benchmark), there's no doubt," Eade said.

"They've got everyone up and firing, only got a couple of guys out at this stage.

"Geelong have obviously got three or four out, so from what I've seen St Kilda are the team to beat, there's no doubt about that."

Eade said it was the Saints' intensity that set them apart.

"It's just their intent and their workrate, they certainly outworked us," he said.

"They've got quality players around the ground but they certainly work hard.

"I think if your workrate's up you can implement a lot of things."

Besides working out how to combat St Kilda if they meet again in the finals, the Dogs also have injuries to two key players to deal with.

Eade said Shaun Higgins would miss at least the next two matches and Robert Murphy at least one, after both sustained hamstring injuries.

Murphy has already spent a three-match stint on the sidelines with a hamstring injury this season, but Eade said the latest complaint seemed more like a spasm than a tear and it was hoped it was less severe.

"He'll certainly miss next week, so we're hopeful it's no damage there and it will only be the one."

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