Saints to meet Dons in top clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints to meet Dons in top clash

By Chris Lines 01/03/2004 06:07:30 AM Comments (0)

St Kilda's new generation will meet the experience and polish of Essendon in the top clash of the pre-season next weekend as the AFL Wizard Cup moves into the semi-finals.

The Saints flogged a disappointing Richmond by 62 points to set up the mouth-watering clash against a Bomber side that stretched every sinew to beat reigning day premier Brisbane by 11 points in the their quarter-final.

The other semi-final will be a comparatively low-key affair, with Melbourne putting in a determined, tough-tackling effort to upset West Coast and set up a match against Geelong, which shrugged off a second-rate Carlton.

The Saints were regarded as the gathering force of the AFL, with an enviable collection of young stars, and were a class above Richmond in winning 2.15.11 (119) to 1.7.6 (57).

With the glaring exception of the ruck, the Saints looked to have a very competitive package for 2004, boasting Fraser Gehrig, Aaron Hamill and Nick Riewoldt up forward - all of which shone on Sunday - complemented by the likes of Lenny Hayes and Nick DalSanto in midfield while the unheralded backline also looked solid.

Saints coach Grant Thomas was anticipating a close match with the Bombers.

"They seem to be up and running early this year and are always a formidable opponent," Thomas said.

Essendon would have been more concerned with proving a point by beating the Lions rather than qualifying for a semi-final, and did so 1.12.9 (90) to 2.8.13 (79).

In a match of impressive pace and talent given the slight preparation of both sides, the Dons were powered home by the old firm of captain James Hird and four-goal full-forward Matthew Lloyd.

All the sentiment was reserved for Bomber midfielder Adam Ramanauskas, who goalled with his first kick in his comeback from a cancer scare in 2003.

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