Tough Saints aim for upset - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tough Saints aim for upset

By Roger Vaughan 19/09/2010 08:17:00 PM Comments (0)

The pain of last year's second placing and their proven toughness this season could be decisive for St Kilda in the AFL grand final.

All-Australian midfielder Leigh Montagna said the Saints could use the memory of the epic grand final against Geelong if Saturday's game against Collingwood is tight in the last term.

St Kilda beat the Western Bulldogs in Saturday night's preliminary final to make their second-straight premiership decider.

They have not won a flag since 1966 and will start outsiders against Collingwood, the minor premiers.

"Maybe we won't know until five minutes to go when the scores are tied, then it might come out," Montagna told Channel Seven's Game Day.

"But no doubt it burns in each player, the feeling of losing, and just how gutted we felt.

"So I think deep down, that emotion hopefully we can draw on late in the game, if it's tight, if it's tense, we can draw on that to know what it's like and maybe just push that little bit more to do whatever it takes."

St Kilda have been less dominant than last season, but they have also been very impressive as they dealt with a succession of well-documented problems.

Captain Nick Riewoldt missed half the season with a serious hamstring injury, while star recruit Andrew Lovett was sacked without playing a game after he was charged with rape.

"It's been there all year, we've faced significant challenges that are well-documented and at no stage have we been distracted or given up," said coach Ross Lyon.

"We've been mentally and physically tough, that's the aim, to produce that next week."

Lyon said "time will tell" if the grand final loss spurs his team.

"It certainly burns in your memory," he said.

Lyon also referred to the famous baseball book Moneyball in discussing the need for the Saints to take their chances against the Magpies.

"We know Moneyball - finals are a random chance, small sample, we understand anything can happen," he said.

"No-one understands that better than this football club ... we try and take hold of the opportunity."

The Saints are confident that Nick Dal Santo (back/hamstring) and Jason Gram (groin) will be fit for the grand final, while they also must decide whether to recall tough defender Steven Baker.

A nine-game suspension means Baker has not played since round 13.

Nick Riewoldt appeared to briefly suffer concussion after a head clash with team-mate Justin Koschitzke, but there are no fears about his availability.

Although Riewoldt starred in the decisive third term against the `Dogs, Lyon said the Saints had shown they were not reliant on their skipper.

"We're not a one-man team, we've proven that," Lyon said.

"We acknowledge he led the team really well, but it's about 22 players in these games really contributing.

"That's what the Bulldogs did, but in the end we imposed our will on the game."

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