Where: Visy Park
When: Friday March 16, 4pm AEST
Coverage: TV – none, Radio – SEN live.
Max 22 – Morning rain, easing.
Friday afternoon sees football return to Visy Park for the NAB Cup Challenge game between the Pies and the Saints.
The fans able to make the 4pm start of this unusually scheduled contest, can expect to see both sides a bit closer to their likely squads for their respective round one matches.
The squads have been reduced from the 29 we saw in the NAB Cup, to 25 for this weekend.
St Kilda have rested 2011 regulars Jason Gram and Farren Ray, yet welcome back goal sneak Ahmed Saad for another opportunity to secure a spot.
Collingwood still have a number of regulars missing, and with Cameron Wood, Nathan Brown, Alan Didak, Dane Beams, Sharrod Wellingham, Ben Johnson and Chris Tarrant hardly sighted this pre-season, they all must all be in serious doubt for round one.
What the Saints want to see:
A better performance than last week in Perth would be a good start. Whilst it is only a pre-season competition, the level of intensity shown by what was largely a senior line up was well below par.
After a year plagued by injury and poor form, you can be sure that the one thing the Saints will be keen to see is Nick Riewoldt produce a dominant four-quarter performance.
The captain has had a big pre-season on the track, and with a new set-shot routine, much of St Kilda’s fortunes rest on his ability to deliver a big season.
At the other end, St Kilda are still looking to nail down the key defensive post left vacant by the departure of Zac Dawson.
After finishing runner up in the best and fairest playing as a key defender for Sandringham in 2011, Tom Simpkin is favourite to be given first crack, and is likely to line up on Chris Dawes.
What the Magpies want to see:
Who is going to step up and demand a place in the round one side? Nathan Buckley may be prepared to play a couple of his established players on limited preparation, but more than likely a number of them will need to prove their fitness with a run in the VFL.
This leaves an opportunity for the likes of Jamie Elliot, Ben Sinclair, Peter Yagmoor and Luke Rounds to show the new coach why they deserve a spot.
Another open door has been left by the retirement of Leigh Brown at the end of 2011.
Will Nathan Buckley be looking to play Chris Dawes as the second ruckman, or will young ruckmen Jonathan Ceglar be selected to debut?
The sheer size of Dawes and Travis Cloke in the forward 50 was a great asset in the Pies’ premiership tilt last year, yet the departure of Brown and the limited preparation of Wood leaves Buckley with a dilemma.
Celgar will no doubt be looking to make the decision easier with a big game this Friday.
I am one of the few backing the Saints to bounce back and be somewhere near the finish line come September, and with about a third of Collingwood’s best 22 missing and St Kilda still smarting from a less than adequate effort last week, I’m selecting the Saints to upset the Pies in a close contest.
St. Kilda by 15 points.
1. Alex Fasolo, 5. Nick Maxwell, 6. Tyson Goldsack, 8. Heritier O’Brien, 9. Martin Clarke, 10. Scott Pendlebury, 11. Jarryd Blair, 12. Luke Ball, 13. Dale Thomas, 14. Luke Rounds, 18. Darren Jolly, 20. Ben Reid, 22. Steele Sidebottom, 23. Lachlan Keeffe, 25. Tom Young, 28. Ben Sinclair, 29. Jonathan Ceglar, 32. Chris Dawes, 33. Jackson Paine, 34. Alan Toovey, 35. Jamie Elliott, 36. Dane Swan, 38. Peter Yagmoor, 39. Heath Shaw, 40. Paul Seedsman
2. Arryn Siposs, 3. Jack Steven, 4. Clint Jones, 5. Ben McEvoy, 7. Lenny Hayes, 11. Leigh Montagna, 12. Nick Riewoldt, 13. Adam Schneider, 14. Jarryn Geary, 15. Tom Ledger, 18. Brendon Goddard, 19. Sam Gilbert, 20. David Armitage, 21. Ahmed Saad, 23. Justin Koschitzke, 24. Sean Dempster, 25. Sam Fisher, 26. Nick Dal Santo, 27. Jason Blake, 28. Rhys Stanley, 30. Brett Peake, 31. Tom Simpkin 32. Terry Milera, 35. Jamie Cripps, 44. Stephen Milne
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