Saints eager for MCG dress rehearsal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints eager for MCG dress rehearsal

By Sam Lienert 29/08/2009 08:16:37 AM Comments (0)

As AFL finals dress rehearsals go, this is not the match St Kilda would have chosen.

Taking on a Melbourne side on Sunday that has far more to gain by losing than winning will be as remote as can be from the cut-throat environment the Saints can expect in September.

A victory over the bottom-placed Demons - who get a pre-draft priority pick provided they do not gain any premiership points from the clash - will be no guarantee the Saints have regained their missing zip.

But after consecutive losses, in which St Kilda lacked the fierce intensity that was the hallmark of their 19-match unbeaten streak, midfielder Leigh Montagna says the opponent this week is not important.

What does matter is that they regain their ruthless approach to winning the contested ball and pressuring the opposition.

"To us it doesn't matter who the opposition is," Montagna said.

"This week our main focus is to play how we want to play.

"So it doesn't really matter whether we're playing the top side or the bottom side, we need to work on the areas that we need to fix and that's something we've looked at this week.

"Just the simple things, winning the contested ball, better ball use.

"Those little things are something it doesn't matter which opposition you're playing."

The one important factor in the match that will be mirrored in finals is the location.

It will be the first time the Saints have ventured onto the MCG all season, remarkable given every other club, including those based outside Victoria, have played there at least once.

That unfamiliarity with the venue is significant, given St Kilda could well play all of their finals matches there.

Last season, they won two of five matches at the MCG, compared to 10 of 14 at the indoor Etihad Stadium, where they are 13-2 this year.

But midfielder Nick Dal Santo said the imminent finals series made this visit timely and he was not expecting their relative MCG inexperience to be a problem.

"Going into finals where the majority of the games are at the MCG, it's probably a good thing playing there the week before," Dal Santo said.

"But in saying that, we played outdoors five or six times this year interstate and we train outdoors obviously three times a week.

"So that's not an issue for us, we'll prepare like we do every other week and we'll take what result we get."

Perhaps a move away from Etihad Stadium might not be a bad thing, despite the Saints' impressive record there this season.

It is, after all, also the only place they have lost a match.

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