Malthouse impressed by improved Saints - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Malthouse impressed by improved Saints

John Salvado 11/08/2011 06:48:18 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse is under no illusions about which St Kilda the Magpies will be squaring off against on Friday night.

This is far more the Saints of late 2010 who went toe-to-toe with Collingwood in two AFL grand finals, rather than the limp outfit that started this season with just two wins in their opening seven matches.

St Kilda were almost down and out after round eight.

But since then they have put together a run of nine wins in their last 11 games, lifting them to sixth spot and the status of the team no-one wants to meet in the first round of the finals.

Malthouse didn't mention that the Magpies' record in their last 11 matches read an even more impressive 11-0, including a 57-point triumph over the Saints in early June.

But his overall point about St Kilda's rejuvenation was well made.

"They are a very different side, statistically in a lot of areas they are different," Malthouse said on Thursday.

"Has their confidence been restored? Well, they've won six on end and nine out of the last 11 and they're a good football side, a very, very good football side.

"They're very well structured, in the last month they've been the best defensive side.

"We're looking forward to the match, as they are."

Due to the controversial nature of his move from St Kilda to Collingwood two years ago, Luke Ball shapes as a pivotal figure on Friday night - as happens every time the two clubs square off.

The 27-year-old midfielder is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.

"Luke Ball is an outstanding footballer and it's just good to see him get reward for the dedication and the demands he places on himself," said Malthouse.

"He is all the things that I hoped a player would be to come to this football club, both on and off the ground.

"We've been blessed in many respects that Darren Jolly is the same and Chris Tarrant has now come along and Andrew Krakouer has come along - each of those boyshas been instrumental in their own right in the encouragement to get better."

The Magpies have strengthened their lineup for the Etihad Stadium clash against the Saints, with premiership duo Harry O'Brien and Sharrod Wellingham returning from injury, replacing Cameron Wood and Simon Buckley.

St Kilda made only one change, bringing back fullback Zac Dawson from a one-week suspension in place of Ryan Gamble.

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