Saints hope for change of fortune - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints hope for change of fortune

Roger Vaughan 17/06/2011 07:32:22 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda can be forgiven for looking back to the start of this AFL season and musing "what if ...".

The Saints and Geelong will clash on Saturday night at the MCG, with the Cats unbeaten and St Kilda ninth on four wins and a draw from 11 games.

Geelong are flying at round 13, while the kindest critique being made about St Kilda for now is that they still have a pulse this season.

These two teams met in round one and Geelong's new era under coach Chris Scott started with a one-point win.

A week later, St Kilda drew with Richmond and also lost their star midfielder and vice-captain Lenny Hayes for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Coach Ross Lyon will not go as far as to say the Cats loss was a "sliding door" moment, but he notes the importance of winning the tight matches.

"When you're grinding for wins and trying to find some confidence and form, if you get over the line it helps," Lyon.

"We were certainly fit and available round one and we let an opportunity go.

"We're a bit off that - how much, I'm not sure."

Of St Kilda's four matches this year decided by two goals or less, their only joy has been the two premiership points for the Richmond draw.

By contrast, the Cats have won four matches by less than a goal.

Most recently, Geelong beat arch-rivals Hawthorn by five points last weekend.

But that success had a serious repercussion, with gun midfielder Joel Selwood suspended for four matches.

While it is not as serious as losing Hayes for a season, Selwood's absence will still be a significant test for the Cats.

They're maybe not vulnerable, but certainly weaker.

What Lyon now wants is a match where the Saints can first stick with the Cats and then be close enough that they can strike at the death.

"What's good is you have a formidable opponent, so there will be no mental lapse there," Lyon said.

"We know what's coming and we've had some fierce battles.

"From my end, it would be great to be able to produce an effort to get into a battle, quite simply."

Their recent history has been tight - in the last five matches between these two teams, the average margin has been just under 10 points.

While the Saints are hardly flying, they have won three of their last matches.

But Lyon also continues to warn that there will be no quick fixes for a team that is in transition.

"It's just where we're at and we're working through, there's no silver bullet here for us," he said.

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