After a reshuffling of the Round 20 schedule in the AFL, the Saints and Blues will now open up the round on Friday night from Marvel Stadium in a game that has massive finals implications for St Kilda.
As always, PuntingInDanger has you covered with a full preview and betting tips for the clash below and remember to head to our AFL Tips page for betting tips on every game in Round 20.
Marvel Stadium, Friday 30th July, 7.50pm (AEST)
This game was supposed to be played on Saturday night but has now been shifted to the marquee time-slot on Friday night, which is probably credible given the lacklustre schedule of games this week. Just one game will pit two top eight sides against each other, the Sunday clash between the Giants and Power.
The Saints were rolling after four straight wins and were on the cusp of the top eight but tough losses to two of the top sides in the competition in Port Adelaide and West Coast over the last two weeks have left them likely needing to go perfect for the rest of the season to challenge. Both losses were extremely hard fought, and should give Saints fans confidence, particular after going down to the Power by just 13 points, a contrasting effort to the 54-point thrashing they suffered at the hands of PA back in Round 6.
At the end of the day, the hardest draw in the competition and an absolutely horrific injury list has been the catalyst of the Saints dismal season to date. The five teams they play twice this season included four of the top five teams from last season in Geelong, Port Adelaide, West Coast and Richmond and the 5th team they had to face twice was the most improved team in the competition in Sydney.
Compounding the schedule is the injury list. Their most important player, Rowan Marshall, missed the game in the loss to the Eagles after visiting a COVID-19 exposure sight. While he is likely to return this week, the Saints will still be without a host of best 22 players in Josh Battle, Jake Carlisle, Hunter Clark, Jarryn Geary, Jade Gresham, Jack Higgins, Tom Highmore, Shaun McKernan, Ben Paton and Mason Wood.
If there’s a team that can match the bad luck of the Saints injuries this season it’s probably their opponents on Friday night. The Blues were without star forward Harry McKay in the disappointing loss to the Roos in Round 19. That luck could turn on Friday night though, as there is potential for both McKay and their other prized key forward in Charlie Curnow to both come back into the line-up. The Blues still await the return of Levi Casboult, Sam Docherty, Michael Gibbons, Caleb Marchbank, Mitch McGovern and Marc Pittonet.
The Saints will be absolutely desperate for a win here and the return of Rowan Marshall is massive. The Blues are one team that St Kilda have had an absolutely dominant record over in recent history, winning six of their last seven meetings by an average margin of 26.1 points. I also think this game being moved up a day to Friday night means it’s less likely we’ll see McKay/Curnow. Back the Saints to continue that run of good form against the Blues and keep their season alive on Friday night.
Jack Steele has been in a rich vein of form over the last few months. In his last eight games, the AFL Brownlow Predictor has him polling a mammoth 18 votes. He has been absolutely dominant against the Blues in the past and after a fairly disappointing 18 disposal game against the Eagles on the weekend, I think he bounces back in a big way here.
Jimmy Webster has made a brilliant come back into the Saints senior side this year after struggling for selection last season. He has passed the 15-disposal mark in his last 7 games in a row and should continue to get plenty of the ball as his teammates use him for his elite kicking skills.
Jack Steele 25+ Disp.
Jack Steele 1+ Goal
Jimmy Webster 15+ Disp.
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