St Kilda will roll the dice and back their midfield to get the better of Geelong’s star-studded on-ball brigade without sending a tagger to Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Dangerfield.
It’s an approach fraught with danger – as evidenced by Dangerfield’s best-afield performance in the Cats’ big win over the Western Bulldogs last week – but on the flip side, plenty of teams have tried and failed to tag the prolific onballer.
Saints coach Alan Richardson believes there’s more upside to giving his young team the all-clear to attack Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
“We will continue to play our way … we rarely tag,” Richardson said on Friday.
“We have the option to go that way if need be, (Maverick) Weller has certainly done some of that for us in the past, but he’s playing really strong footy for us in front of the ball.
“But we’ll play our way. They’re a really talented group, but we’re going to back our guys in.
“We can’t have our guys just focus on them and not attack and not strike at the ball … we’re just going to be playing on the back foot all day.”
St Kilda, currently 12th on he ladder with a 5-7 record, are coming off their bye round but scored a 32-point win over Carlton in their most recent game, while the Cats (10-3) stormed to the top of the ladder with their thumping of the Dogs.
The Saints’ win over the Blues was even more impressive given the absence of skipper Nick Riewoldt and key forward Paddy McCartin, but the pair are back for Saturday night’s clash.
Geelong made one change, with Cameron Guthrie replacing Josh Caddy, who will miss up to six weeks with a knee injury.
Despite coming close on a couple of occasions, the Saints are yet to defeat a team inside the top-eight this season and Richardson agreed an upset win against the ladder leaders would be a huge boost for his young side.
“There is the potential that if we get over the line against the Hawks in Tasmania or the Kangaroos, that there’s possibly a little bit more belief from the group,” he said.
“We’ve spoken about that. I think we’ve addressed that in terms of identifying what it is that happens to us when we fall away badly against those sorts of teams.
“That’s the excitement for us this week against the Cats, that we get the opportunity.”