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Saints up for finals fight in Adelaide

Alan Richardson: Press Conference (28/7) Alan Richardson spoke too the media today from Melbourne Airport ahead of this weekends match against Port.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 25: Alan Richardson, Senior Coach of the Saints looks on during the St Kilda Saints training session at the Linen House Centre on July 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Alan Richardson looks on at training during the week.
Every game is important, as it is for a lot of teams; it’s an incredibly even competition, we find ourselves with many other clubs in that group.
Alan Richardson

With so many teams fighting for so few spots inside the top eight, every game is crucial for St Kilda as they jostle for a return to the finals, says Saints Coach Alan Richardson.

The Saints travel across to Adelaide Oval this weekend to face fifth-placed Port Adelaide, who despite sitting six spots higher on the ladder, are only one game ahead.

While consecutive losses against Sydney and Essendon has halted the Saints momentum, Richardson said his men have taken confidence from their improved form on the road this season and have set themselves for a big challenge on Saturday.

“Every game is important, as it is for a lot of teams; it’s an incredibly even competition, we find ourselves with many other clubs in that group. This one is a real challenge for us,” Richardson told reporters at Melbourne airport on Friday.

“Last year we were 0-6 on the road, this year we’re 2-3. We think we have done something about that.

“We get an opportunity against Port Adelaide over there who are also fighting for their position in the finals, so it will be a terrific contest.”

With no Nick Riewoldt or Leigh Montagna playing this weekend, Richardson believes the scenario presents an opportunity for St Kilda’s younger leaders to step up in their absence.

Six-time Trevor Barker Award winner Riewoldt has been rested for the trip to Adelaide, while Montagna injured his hamstring in the loss to Sydney at the SCG and is facing a race against the clock to return before the end of this season.

The experienced pair, who have more than 600 games of senior football next to their names, aren’t officially part of the leadership group at Linen House Centre this season, but Richardson says they have still continued to have a profound impact on the group.

“Certainly in the short term it’s an opportunity for our younger leadership group, even though there was a shift as to who was allocated as a leader this year, to really own the team,” Richardson said.

“There’s no doubt that whilst ‘Joey’ and ‘Rooey’ stepped aside from physical positions they really still have had a strong influence on the group and that’s a reflection of their personality.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for the next group of leaders coming through to lead the way.”