Saints Lead Host of Sinners in Finals March
With three rounds of the home and away season remaining, history beckons for the boys from Moorabbin. At 19-0 a perfect season is within reach for St Kilda, the first in AFL/VFL history.
The all conquering Saints have provided their long suffering supporters with plenty to cheer about this year but it will all count for nothing if they are unable to lift the cup for the first time since 1966 on the last Saturday in September.
The main challenge will come from Geelong and Collingwood.
Geelong, the best team of the past two years are in the unfamiliar position of hunting a team above them on the ladder.
The Cats will finish second, and although in the last few weeks they appear to have lost the hunger that brought them the 2007 flag, it won’t be hard to find inspiration to atone for last years Grand Final loss when September arrives.
Collingwood has won 10 of their past 11 matches and are looking ominous.
The Pies play in front of big crowds most weeks. They have a full list to choose from and will hold no fears playing Geelong in the first week of the finals if they finish third as expected.
The race for fourth is wide open. The Bulldogs had been considered the third best team all season until they suffered a shock loss to lowly West Coast which allowed the Pies to leap frog them on the ladder.
Compounded by their tough run home and questionable form against fellow top eight sides the Dogs could drop out of the four as early as this week when they face the Brisbane Lions.
Should Brisbane beat the Dogs they will go two points clear in fourth courtesy of their round 19 last gasp draw with Essendon. The Lions will take confidence into a potential Qualifying Final clash with St Kilda knowing they ran them to only 16 points earlier in the season.
Carlton has all but sewn up its first finals appearance since 2001 and is in form with five wins in their past six, with a good run home and a bit of luck the double chance is not beyond them.
The Crows who only weeks ago were considered a genuine contender have failed the acid test against the top three sides in recent weeks. They must beat Hawthorn this weekend.
In what is tantamount to a Steven Bradbury style finish eighth spot is also still up for grabs. Port Adelaide is the front runners from Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney.
Port were appalling last weekend going down to a Fremantle side with six first year players, not the form expected of an aspiring finalist.
Essendon have surprised all with some heroic victories, but their young legs are tiring.
The reigning Premier, Hawthorn has been decimated by injury, but their core of champions that led them to glory last season have been disappointing.
An apparent sense of satisfaction in their 2008 success has marred their title defence and the Hawks don’t deserve to feature in September this time around.
Sydney wrote to all their members indicating that finals were not an option and young players would get their chance. The bloods would never consider tanking but to still be in the finals race is clearly a surprise, a tough run home makes it unlikely though.
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