Sport AFL Saints fight for middle supremacy

Saints fight for middle supremacy

The Saints will have Jack Steven back in their side.
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St Kilda not only won their first two games of the AFL season despite widespread predictions of gloom, they took the fight up to West Coast in Perth.

The Saints can be more than a little pleased with how things are going under new coach Alan Richardson.

The mood is far different for winless Adelaide ahead of Sunday’s round-four clash at Etihad Stadium.

Coach Brenton Sanderson has talked about his side’s performance anxiety because of all the attention on the Crows’ poor ball use.

“So you imagine that you’re a player, you have got the ball: `Geez, I’d better not turn this over’,” Sanderson said.

“Sometimes players even don’t want to get the ball because of that anxiety.”

The Crows have conceded 380 points and now face the challenge of keeping St Kilda’s in-form key forward Nick Riewoldt quiet.

The Saints regain club champion Jack Steven from injury and ex-Lion Billy Longer will make his debut for the Saints in place of injured ruckman Tom Hickey.

St Kilda’s joint midfield coach Danny Sexton says although the Saints will be under the pump, they’ve shown they can match fire with fire.

Sexton said the Saints were more than competitive against West Coast, losing by 25 points.

“We thought we took another step forward,” he said.

No.18 draft pick Luke Dunstan, with 29 disposals last week, has been a shining light for the new-look Saints.

Rookie draft selection Eli Templeton and ex-Hawk Shane Savage have also slotted in well.

Sexton says Dunstan, a 19-year-old South Australian, impressed during pre-season with a hard-working attitude and looked every inch a senior player.

“That’s what you see on game day. A young guy who works really hard and makes mature decisions out on the field,” Sexton said.

Midfield star Scott Thompson has been named by the Crows despite a corked thigh.

Sexton says key forward James Podsiadly will be a handful for St Kilda’s defence, led by James Gwilt and Luke Delaney.

“Midfield’s their strength,” Sexton said.

“Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane and Scott Thompson, we’ll have our hands full with those three in particular.

“We think we’re in good form in the midfield but we’ll need to be. Adelaide are quite talented.”