In what has been a whirlwind of a year, the Saints will have one more curveball thrown their way as they travel to Blundstone Arena to take on Fremantle in their final game of 2021.
In their first game in Tasmania in two years, St Kilda will be looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the 2nd placed Cats last week at GMHBA Stadium.
With three changes to the side set to travel across the Bass Strait, opportunities will be there for Brett Ratten’s troops to finish off their year with some momentum heading into the pre-season.
Round 23 | 2021
St Kilda v Fremantle
Sunday 22 August
12:15PM, Blundstone Arena
Broadcast live on Fox Footy and Kayo
The tussle in Tassie
We're off to Tasmania for Round 23 ??— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) August 17, 2021
It is somewhat of a rarity for the Saints to play in Tasmania, with Sunday set to be only the third time since 2015 since they have played for premiership points in Hobart.
It is the first time St Kilda will play the Dockers in the state since the infamous siren-gate match from 2006, which made headlines across the AFL.
With a record of 0-2 at Blundstone Arena in the past six years, Brett Ratten’s men will be hoping to notch up a win for the first time in the state since 2017.
Eight away from the record
Eight tackles. That is what Jack Steele needs to break the AFL record for most number of tackles in a season.
The co-captain of the club, Steele has been a machine this season, averaging nine tackles per game, as well as 29 disposals, seven clearances and 14 contested possessions per game.
He is currently sitting on 179 tackles in total, well above the second-placed Touk Miller with 140.
Seven tackles to draw level, eight tackles to take the record.
For a guy that averages nine per game, it is hard to argue that the odds aren’t in his favour.
Brayshaw is back
Back from suspension, the Dockers will be happy to see Andrew Brayshaw lining up against the Saints come Sunday afternoon.
The young midfielder is in career-best form this season, averaging 29 disposals, five tackles, 22 effective disposals and 20 uncontested possessions per game.
Brayshaw currently leads Fremantle for disposals, tackles and uncontested possessions, with the 21 year-old having put together eight games this season with 30+ touches.
Some words from Ratts
Jack Bytel will make his first full senior appearance since Round 10 on Sunday afternoon, with the young midfielder one of three changes to face Fremantle at Tasmania's Blundstone Arena.
Bytel will be accompanied by Round 23 inclusions Ben Long and Paul Hunter, while last week's medical sub Oscar Clavarino comes into the starting line-up.
Omitted duo Ryan Byrnes and Luke Dunstan have been listed as emergencies alongside Jack Lonie and first-year Saint Matthew Allison.
On the radar
353 games in and David Mundy is still going as strong as ever for the Dockers.
In his 17th season of AFL footy, the Fremantle veteran has not lost a step, leading his side for total clearances, contested possessions, inside 50s and score involvements.
Averaging 25 disposals per game, as well as six clearances and seven score involvements, Mundy will break his club’s record for most AFL games this Sunday, and the Saints will be looking to spoil the party.
Keep an eye on
Since making the move from the city of churches, Brad Crouch has found his groove in the St Kilda colours.
The 27-year-old midfielder is averaging 27 disposals per game this year, as well as five clearances, 12 contested possessions, 17 effective disposals and six tackles.
His form has been vital to the Saints’ engine room, where he provides ample support for Jack Steele, Zak Jones and Luke Dunstan.
Sitting second in the club for contested possessions, disposals, clearances and tackles, all below his skipper, the one-two combination of both Steele and Crouch has been impressive for St Kilda.
With Dunstan listed as an emergency for the side in the final match of the Saints' season, the former Crows' impact on the contest in the middle of the ground will be crucial to deciding the result of Sunday's clash.
Last time we met
St Kilda stormed out of the blocks against Fremantle up at Metricon Stadium last year, booting seven goals to one inside the first quarter.
But the Dockers fought back with eight majors of their own in the next two quarters to take a slender eight-point lead into the final break.
Fremantle pushed their lead out to 19 points early in the fourth, but three majors to the Saints saw them level the scores with less than three minutes on the clock. However, thanks to a Lachie Schultz goal with only 80 seconds remaining, the Dockers ran out as six-point victors.
FREMANTLE 1.2 6.4 9.7 12.7 (79)
ST KILDA 7.2 8.5 8.5 11.7 (73)
Fremantle: Schultz 2, Taberner 2, Fyfe 2, Darcy, Lobb, Bewley, Fyfe, Tucker, Serong, Banfield
St Kilda: Membrey 3, Jones 2, Billings, Butler, Kent, Lonie, King, Gresham
Fremantle: Walters, Fyfe, Brayshaw, Taberner, Tucker, Lobb, Schultz
St Kilda: Steele, Membrey, Billings, Jones, Wilkie, Clark, Howard