Round 16 Match Preview: Brisbane vs. St Kilda

Round 16, The Gabba.

Brisbane:

Brisbane was heavily defeated by 47 points against Sydney last round at the SCG. Sydney took full advantage of Brisbane’s fragile defence, with youngster Sam Reid kicking six goals. The Lions this year have experimented with key defender Daniel Merrett moving into the forward line. In his 14 games this year, he has kicked 21 goals. He is vital to Brisbane’s defence, though he and Jonathon Brown have worked in tandem up forward. Another player that has been vital for Brisbane this year is Pearce Hanley. The lightly built Irishman is a rebounding defender and has played a pivotal part in setting up scoring options.

St Kilda:

St Kilda destroyed a strong Essendon team by the tune of 71 points at Etihad Stadium last round. St Kilda’s tackling pressure and foot skills were sublime. This week, the Saints play the first of two away games up at the Gabba, before they head to Sydney. They will miss Jack Steven, who has been suspended due to off field indiscretions. It is hard to fault any of the Saints players’ performance against Essendon and there are many players that can be applauded. Beau Wilkes came into the side and played well on Dustin Fletcher. He kicked two goals and by having him as the third tall in the Saints’ forward line, it released the pressure off Justin Koschitzke and Nick Riewoldt. Wilkes’ presence will be vital again, as it will stretch the fragile Lions defence.

Milestone:
St Kilda:
Jason Gram will play his 150th game.

Key Players:
Brisbane:

Pearce Hanley, Daniel Merrett, Dayne Zorko, Andrew Raines, Tom Rockliff.

St Kilda:

Ben McEvoy, Nick Dal Santo, Tom Simpkin, Beau Wilkes, Sean Dempster.

Who’s Missing:

Brisbane:

Brent Staker, Ash McGrath, Jarrod Polec, Matthew Leuenberger, Mitch Golby, Cheynee Stiller.

St Kilda:

Rhys Stanley, Jason Blake, Dean Polo, Raph Clarke, Brett Peake, Jack Steven, Brendon Goddard.

Key Match Ups:
Pearce Hanley vs. Sean Dempster:

Hanley is one of Brisbane’s most influential players and he will need to be stopped. Dempster is one of the Saints best stoppers and this is a great match up. Hanley’s run and carry is one of the Lions best and Dempster will need to be at his peak to stop Hanley run the ball out of defence.

Andrew Raines vs. Nick Dal Santo:

Dal Santo is in great form for the Saints. He was one of the best against Essendon and Andrew Raines will be the perfect match up to stop his influence. Raines has gotten under the skin of Gold Coast champion Gary Ablett and Dal Santo’s near perfect use of the ball, will need to be stopped.

Prediction:

The game is at the Lions home, though the Saints have won their last two games at the Gabba, with Brisbane’s last win at home against the Saints in round 9, 2008. The Saints are coming off a near flawless win against one of the in-form teams. The Lions have been up and down and are still a young team. Both teams match up well statistically, though the Saints this season have had more marks inside 50 (178 to 151) and more inside 50’s (754 to 661). Brisbane has the advantage in rebound 50’s (534 to 442). The game will go down to which team can rebound out of their 50 better and which team can utilize the ball once marked in their respective 50’s. The Saints’ midfield edges the Lions’ in class and the Saints also have good marking targets and small men up forward. The young Saints defence may have its hands full against Brown and Merrett, although Tom Simpkin has shown that he can battle hard against experienced bodies. The Saints will be too strong for a fighting Lions teams.

Saints by 30 points.

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