Saints defence prepare for in-form Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints defence prepare for in-form Cats

By Roger Vaughan 24/09/2009 06:21:12 AM Comments (0)

They're unrecognised, low-profile and have largely gone unnoticed so far in talk about the keys to Saturday's AFL grand final.

But once again, St Kilda's outstanding defence will have a crucial say in whether they beat Geelong.

The Cats attack returned to its high-scoring, dangerous best last Saturday night as they walloped Collingwood by 73 points to make the grand final.

Steve Johnson, Brad Ottens and Paul Chapman have all made successful returns from injury, Tom Hawkins is improving and despite his goalkicking yips, Cam Mooney is a strong physical presence.

They pose a massive challenge to the team that conceded only 1,411 points during the regular season - that's just over 10 goals per game.

If they can keep that attack to 10 or 11 goals, the Saints are well on the way to winning their first premiership since 1966.

Of course, much of their miserly work this year was due to St Kilda's concept of "team defence", where the opposition is put under constant pressure around the ground.

But it was still surprising that the only Saints defender to make the All-Australian team was Brendon Goddard - and that was on the bench.

Fellow backman Jason Blake acknowledged the task they face in the grand final.

"We're really going to have to be organised and working together," Blake said.

"They're dangerous and they can score quickly, so we've got to be on the ball.

"We've got to be prepared for anything, ready for anything - during the week we'll prepare for that and get the job done."

Blake will probably have a variety of roles in the match, spending time on key forwards and smaller goalkickers.

The Cats will definitely try to bust open the match by sending Ottens and Gary Ablett forward at different times to knock the Saints off balance.

Geelong would also have noted with interest how the Western Bulldogs tried to isolate various St Kilda players in their preliminary final last Friday night - particularly Goddard and Sam Gilbert.

It worked at times, but the `Dogs eventually lacked the scoring accuracy to finish off the job.

Asked what he had learnt from the win over the Bulldogs, Goddard replied: "You have to be organised and communicate really well, which is what we've done all year.

"It's a concentration game at the end of the day - two hours of concentration."

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