Where and when: MCG, Saturday April 20, 4.35pm
Last time they met: MCG, round 15, 2018: Melbourne 18.9 (115) lost to St Kilda 18.11 (19)
The underwhelming performance marked Melbourne’s third-straight loss, signalling doubts over Melbourne’s finals credentials. The Saints produced their best four-quarter performance of the season, but almost let things slip in the last three minutes of the contest.
What it means for Melbourne: Momentum. After three consecutive losses to begin the season, the Demons finally got back on the winners list against the Swans. They must continue that winning form to get their season back on track.
What it means for St Kilda: The Saints have surprised many after beginning the season with three wins from four games. Although Melbourne has been a team out of sorts, beating the Demons would be Alan Richardson’s side’s biggest scalp of the season.
How Melbourne wins: Like the second half against Sydney, get on top of the contested possession count and turn that midfield advantage into forward 50 entries. But it will also be important for the Dees to take their chances in front of a goal – a theme that worked against them in the first month of the season.
How St Kilda wins: Limit Melbourne’s possession count and don’t allow the Demons’ midfielders to dictate terms. Move the ball with speed and give their forwards one-on-one opportunities against their opponents.
The match-up: Jack Steele v Clayton Oliver
Steele is likely to go head-to-head in a run-with role with Melbourne’s premier inside midfielder. The Saint – 59th in the AFL Player Ratings – has been in good form to start 2019, averaging 23.5 disposals per game. Oliver, ranked fifth in Player Ratings, is averaging 32.3 touches per contest.
It’s a big week for: Rowan Marshall
Marshall was excellent against Hawthorn’s Ben McEvoy on Sunday, but the challenges keep coming with a match-up against Max Gawn and Braydon Preuss to come. Marshall will likely lose the hit-out count to Gawn, but his strength lies with his ability to motor around the ground and push forward when required.
Big call: Max Gawn to kick three goals, spending time up forward to stretch St Kilda’s defence.
Thommo’s Tip: Melbourne by 6 points.
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