Saints to test North's credibility - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints to test North's credibility

Roger Vaughan 02/07/2011 11:29:16 AM Comments (0)

North Melbourne regard St Kilda as a major test of their AFL credibility, even though the Saints sit four spots below them on the ladder.

The Kangaroos have won their last four matches and, depending on other games this weekend, could break into the top eight if they can beat St Kilda in the Sunday twilight game at Etihad Stadium.

It is a massive game for the two teams, with the 13th-placed Saints having to win to stay in touch with the eight.

Adding to the occasion for North is their poor record against St Kilda, who beat them easily twice last season and have won nine of their previous 12 matches.

North defender Michael Firrito said despite the Saints' patchy form so far this year, the Kangaroos view them as a formidable opponent.

"We have plenty to play for and we're going against a side who's been one of the most dominant over the last three or four years," Firrito said.

"They've certainly given us quite a few touch ups.

"We have a chance to show our fans how much we've improved, how far we've come.

"We see it as a real opportunity to take down one of the big teams."

Earlier in the week, Saints coach Ross Lyon said he was unsure who was hunting who in this match, given the high stakes.

But Firrito has no doubt it's his team hunting the Saints.

As the young Kangaroos try to develop as quickly as possible, Firrito said it is vital they start claiming big scalps.

North's wins in the last month have all been against sides around or below them on the ladder - Adelaide, Gold Coast, Essendon and Port Adelaide.

Their poor record against St Kilda means a win over them would almost be a stepping stone along the path to respectability.

"We don't look at their position on the ladder and think they're no good - we still see them as a powerhouse of the competition and a very dangerous side," Firrito said.

"We're going to be challenged on Sunday and I guess the whole footy world will know where we're at - us included."

A vital duel will be the North defence against Saints captain Nick Riewoldt, who had a quiet game before last week's bye and will be fired up to regain form.

"Because he has such a big motor, he can burn up his opponent - I think it's unlikely we'll have one or two go through him all day ... there will be three or four, it will be a real team effort," Firrito said.

The Saints have made three changes, dropping Steven Baker and Raphael Clarke and losing Justin Koschitzke through suspension.

Youngster Tom Ledger and Tom Lynch and Richmond recruit Dean Polo will take their spots.

The 'Roos have made four changes, losing Luke Delaney to injury and dropping Kieran Harper, Shaun Atley and Cameron Richardson.

Daniel Pratt, Ben McKinley, Scott McMahon and Lachie Hansen come into the side.

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