West Coast clash vital for Saints - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

West Coast clash vital for Saints

14/07/2011 04:21:25 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda sees this weekend's AFL clash against West Coast as a vital measuring stick for the 2010 grand finalists who are struggling to match last year's form.

Saints coach Ross Lyon says the game, at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, will give the side a clear indication of where they are with the finals looming and what they need to do to climb into the top eight.

St Kilda have crept slowly up to 11th on the ladder after a dismal start to the season but flopped against powerhouse sides Collingwood and Geelong in recent weeks.

The Eagles, now fifth after beating Carlton and Geelong in consecutive weeks, will provide a solid test, according to Lyon.

"What it is for us is an opportunity to see whether we've really improved," Lyon said.

"We felt we held our end up fairly well against Geelong and Collingwood and didn't get it done so this is an opportunity to see against a team which is in the top (five) of the competition where we sit."

Lyon said the match could prove one of the turning points of St Kilda's season.

"That's how we're viewing it. It's at home and it's nice to be in a game with some real meaning and measurement in it.

"Every week's a real challenge and difficult but when teams are both in form and converging - and Etihad on Saturday night - it's an exciting time.

"Certainly we're not going to circumvent the day game (between Carlton and Collingwood) but I think it's one of the matches of the round."

Lyon has stamped the Eagles as one of the premiership challengers after a dramatic improvement in form over recent years.

"When you look at West Coast, their ability to come to Melbourne and beat Carlton, and beat Geelong just sort of helps certify them a little bit and firm up their credentials," he said.

Lyon admitted that St Kilda was in a quandary on the crucial ruck area, where Nic Natanui and Dean Cox have been dominant for West Coast.

He said he was tossing up a lot of options and may not have a clear view until shortly before Saturday night's game begins.

Lyon has nominated in-form Ben McEvoy as a certain starter in the centre but is uncertain as to who will help him carry the ruck load.

"We've had a few options (like) Tommy Lynch ... Zac Dawson has rucked a little bit and Sam Fisher and Nick Riewoldt has been around the ground.

"Then do you look at Jason Blake who is mobile ... or Justin Koschitzke who has finished his suspension.

"It's not an easy decision and we'll take our full time.

"Our VFL team has a bye so there will be no indictor on the weekend so you might have to wait until the first bounce," he said.

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