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JLT2 Microscope v Melbourne

Josh Gabelich  March 8, 2018 9:30 AM

St Kilda key forward Josh Bruce is back in the team for the clash against Melbourne at Casey Fields.

St Kilda key forward Josh Bruce is back in the team for the clash against Melbourne at Casey Fields.

Saints determined to turn form around ahead of Round 1

While history has taught us not to read too much into pre-season form, St Kilda and Melbourne’s form in their first games of the JLT Community Series was a fair way apart. Simon Goodwin’s team moved aside North Melbourne with ease in Tasmania, while the Saints were outplayed by Carlton at Ikon Park. With only a fortnight remaining between now and Round 1, St Kilda will be desperate to find some form leading into the season. The Saints have chosen an almost full-strength side for Thursday night, with only ruckman Billy Longer missing due to a minor hip injury. Time to click into gear.

Billings and Bruce return to boost attack

After missing last week’s loss to the Blues due to different reasons, classy half-forward Jack Billings and hard running key forward Josh Bruce return for the final hit-out before the season opener. Billings, who was one of the most improved players at the Saints last year, has recovered from a minor hamstring strain. Bruce has been rewarded for a dominant display in the reserves last week, as he continues to build match fitness following an interrupted pre-season due to a knee arthroscope. St Kilda struggled to capitalise on their chances inside 50 last week and will be hoping these two can turn that around at Casey Fields.

Can Clark and Coffield book a debut at Casey?

Nathan Brown told reporters on Wednesday he thinks St Kilda’s two top picks from last year’s NAB AFL Draft are firming for a Round 1 debut, and he isn’t the only one with that belief. Hunter Clark (pick No. 7) and Nick Coffield (No. 8) starred against Carlton last week, adding another performance to their strong pre-season’s to tighten their grips around a first round debut. With composure beyond their youth, Clark and Coffield could cement a debut against Brisbane with another strong effort at Casey Fields.

Midfield spots still up for grabs

St Kilda’s back six looks pretty settled ahead of Round 1. There is a little bit of wriggle room in attack. But in the midfield, spots are still up for grabs. They are always the most hotly contested. Only so many players can be picked in 17 days’ time. David Armitage reminded everyone of his value last week in a commanding return to senior football. Jack Steven and Seb Ross made good starts to their seasons. Jade Gresham worked his way into the game when tossed into the middle. Jack Steele, Jack Sinclair and Blake Acres will be looking to find some strong form ahead of the season when they face a potent Demons engine room at Casey Fields. Time is running out ahead of the first bounce of 2018. Who will cement a spot?