Saints look to extend run against Demons

The last time Sean Dempster was in an AFL team beaten by Melbourne he was playing in a Sydney side that would go on to win the flag.

It was round five, 2005, and the Demons comfortably beat the Swans by 34 points at the SCG.

Brock McLean got the three Brownlow Medal votes and a 21-year-old Dempster, in just his third AFL game, played on high-flying forward Russell Robertson.

“Russell took a massive hanger on my head in the goal square,” Dempster told AAP.

“He was at the peak of his powers and he was taking hangers on everyone. During that week everyone had been getting into me, telling me to watch out he doesn’t step on my head, and it still happened.”

Eleven years, a premiership flag and 212 games later, the versatile defender is part of a St Kilda side looking to continue a 13-game winning streak against Melbourne.

The Saints are 12th and the Demons 10th with identical 7-8 records heading into Sunday’s clash at Etihad Stadium, with Paul Roos’ side keen to rid themselves of another hoodoo.

“I think once you get a bit of a roll-on (against a team) I guess a bit of pride starts to kick in that you want to keep it going,” Dempster said of the impressive run that started in round one of the 2007 season.

“But they’ve been a big improver this year, which comes as no surprise to me having played under Roosy.

“They can bring a really high-pressure game and, probably like us, if they don’t bring that (intensity) that’s when they can come undone a bit … as we can with us also having quite a few younger players.

“But we go in expecting their best pressure, which we’ll need to match then hopefully put them on the back foot.”

Saints youngsters Jack Billings and Jack Sinclair return for the clash, while the Demons included Angus Brayshaw for his first game since round five after he overcame lingering concussion symptoms.

St Kilda prevailed by 39 points in an entertaining affair the last time the teams met back in round six. Nick Riewoldt starred for the Saints, while Jesse Hogan kicked seven goals for Melbourne.

“Generally the bigger blokes aren’t that mobile – he’s a special talent,” Dempster said of Hogan.

“I daresay all three tall defenders down there might have to play on him at some stage … he’s a pretty dynamic player.”

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