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Saints just one more hurdle for Cats

By Sam Lienert 24/06/2010 06:51:23 PM Comments (0)

Geelong are treating St Kilda as just one more hurdle to clear in their bid for another AFL premiership, not the ultimate pre-finals test of their standing.

The Saints pushed the Cats to the brink in last year's grand final and again loom as their greatest challenger this season.

But top-placed Geelong are playing down the broader significance of what could well be the two clubs' only clash this side of the grand final, when they meet the second-placed Saints at the MCG on Friday night.

"You always want to come up against the best teams and obviously St Kilda are a good side and you want to test yourself against good sides," defender David Wojcinski said on Thursday.

"So I guess it might tell us a little bit about where we're at.

"But we seriously just take it as another game and that's it and we'll be happy to get away with a good win."

The Cats have been remarkable so far this season, for their ability to again produce the AFL's best form despite being hit by a wave of injuries to star players.

Much has been made of the Saints' long-term loss of skipper Nick Riewoldt to a hamstring tendon injury.

But Geelong have not missed a beat, despite being without No.1 ruckman Brad Ottens, star fullback Matthew Scarlett, gun midfielder Joel Corey and small forward Max Rooke for the majority of the first half of the season.

The Cats' ability to maintain top spot in their absence, and that of numerous other stars for shorter stints, suggests they might be even better than the side that claimed last year's flag.

But Wojcinski believes that judgment can not be made yet, or after the Saints clash, but only on grand final day.

"You can really only measure your season when the season's finished, so we'll worry about that then," he said.

He said the only real gains the club could make on Friday night would be four points and the opportunity for a tough contest against committed opposition.

His view echoed that of coach Mark Thompson, who earlier in the week said the Cats relished the opportunity to take on the Saints, but did not regard it as a more significant test than numerous others.

"It doesn't matter who you play out of the top teams, if you don't bring your A-game to the ground ready to play then it's going to be awfully difficult," Thompson said.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon said his club could use the match as a chance to improve, take another step towards finals and gauge themselves against "the benchmark".

But he said the fact that they were playing the team that deprived them of premiership glory last year was irrelevant.

"There's no point to prove because there's no cup at stake, it's just another four points we're trying to bank and another opportunity for ourselves," Lyon said.

"Our aim is to improve our football at all times."

The Cats regained Cameron Mooney (ankle) and Scarlett (hamstring), but remain without Corey (knee) and lost forward-midfielder Paul Chapman to a hamstring injury.

The Saints' only change was the loss of defender Ralph Clarke (hamstring), replaced by Jack Steven.

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