Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Sunday March 24, 1.10pm AEDT
Last time they met: Metricon Stadium, round 13, 2018: Gold Coast 11.12 (78) lost to St Kilda 11.14 (80)
Saints coach Alan Richardson’s job was on the line coming into this clash, with the club having posted its only win in the opening round. After trailing by 31 points at the last break, St Kilda stormed home and pulled off a remarkable victory, going in front with a minute left after a brilliant snap from Jade Gresham.
What it means for St Kilda: So much. It’s been a disastrous past few weeks for the Saints. The injury list is mounting, and a win would be great for morale. A loss to the lowly Suns would be tough to rebound from.
What it means for Gold Coast: Everyone knows the club has stripped back its list, so expectations are at rock bottom. An early victory would boost the player morale in a season likely to include some demoralising defeats.
How St Kilda wins: Holding sway in the midfield battle and applying intense pressure will help protect an inexperienced backline, with Josh Battle and Darragh Joyce holding the key posts.
How Gold Coast wins: The Suns just need to be in the game at the last break and hope their opposition cracks in what would be a stressful situation.
The stat: St Kilda lost the free kick count in its final JLT Community Series match against the Western Bulldogs, 40-14. It won’t want that disparity in round one.
The match-up: Peter Wright v Darragh Joyce
On paper, Wright should have the advantage and would back himself to kick a bag, but Irishman Joyce has done some nice things in the pre-season for St Kilda. Wright is ranked No.271 in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, while the Saints backman is No.698.
It’s a big week for: Alan Richardson
The coach enters 2019 under serious heat to keep his job and that scrutiny will ramp right up if his side doesn’t win its season opener.
Father Dougal’s Tip: The Saints by 6 points, only because they are at home. I can see either or both of these teams coming together to prove they are notably better that last year, and thus have little faith in my prediction
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