If there was one word to describe St Kilda’s prime-time clash with West Coast, it would be ‘massive’.
The profound impact of a win under lights needs no explanation, nor does the scene for the following week’s Friday night special against Greater Western Sydney should the four points be out of reach in Round 17.
The stage is set, the football world is watching on in fascination.
Now is the time to stand tall.
St Kilda v West Coast
Thursday 10 September
Gabba, 7:10pm AEST
Watch the game live and free on Channel 7, or on Fox Footy, Kayo or with the official AFL Live Pass.
Make sure to follow all the latest game-day news and inside information across our social channels, and use #TogetherWeRise to show us how you're watching on from home!
Last time we met…
Round 8, 2019
Saturday 11 May
St Kilda 10.10 (70) def. by West Coast 12.16 (88)
The injury-hit St Kilda battled hard against the reigning Premiers, holding sway for the better part of three quarters before the Eagles broke free with four unanswered goals to close out the third quarter.
Despite racing out to near-unassailable leads throughout the course of the match, the gritty Saints continued to trim back the margin to remain in touch with their high-profile opposition.
Adam Simpson’s men could have closed the book much sooner under the roof had it not been for errant kicking (1.8) in the final term.
A recalled Luke Dunstan stamped his authority on the Saints’ midfield, holding down his spot for the rest of the year to become one of his side’s best contested players.
Jack Billings (24 disposals, two goals) and an industrious Jade Gresham (21 disposals, one goal) were pivotal through the midfield, while Josh Bruce was dominant in the air with seven contested marks.
Shane Savage and Jimmy Webster paired brilliantly across half-back, with the Round 8 encounter the latter’s last senior game before an extensive run of injury halted any further appearances to date.
West Coast’s on-ball brigade was on-song under the roof, with Andrew Gaff, Dom Sheed, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo and Liam Duggan combining beautifully to each register over 20 possessions apiece.
Shannon Hurn was the standout across the defensive half, with his plays stemming the Eagles’ dominance on the scoreboard.
Moment of the match…
Shane Savage threaded the goal of his life with a mind-boggling banana on the run to put the Saints within 12 points early in the third quarter.
From the archives...
The Saints and Eagles played out a remarkable draw in Round 3 2000, with an inspiring dash and conversion from the great Robert Harvey in the twilight stages willing his side towards a dramatic come-from-behind charge.
Harvey unsurprisingly polled three Brownlow votes for his 33 disposals, 10 inside-50s and nine clearances, and was joined on the AFL's night of nights by fellow vote-getters Andrew Thompson (24 disposals, three goals, two votes) and Peter Everitt (seven goals, one vote).
Round 16 recap
St Kilda gritted its teeth on Sunday afternoon to see off a determined Hawthorn outfit by 14 points and keep its finals hopes on track.
The Hawks booted the first three goals of the game in a high-scoring, free-flowing opening term, before Brett Ratten's troops wrestled momentum back in their favour to come away with the four points, despite a few nervous moments.
Rowan Marshall was awarded the Silk-Miller Medal for his best-on-ground performance (two goals, eight marks), while Ben Long and Nick Coffield were rock solid in defence to thwart the surging visitors.
Jack Sinclair, providing important touch and speed in his side’s chains into attack, was another Saint to watch as the red, white and black pencilled in its ninth win of the year.
It was heartbreak for West Coast later that night at Metricon Stadium, who – despite kicking the first four goals of the game – fell short by two points to the strong-willed Western Bulldogs.
Marcus Bontempelli shattered the Eagles’ hearts with a contentious goal review in the final moments, but misses late in the game prevented the West Australians from snatching a late victory.
Jack Redden and Dom Sheed had 13 clearances between them as Andrew Gaff was kept quiet by Toby McLean, while Jake Waterman hit the scoreboard with two goals.
The ins and outs...
St Kilda will welcome key targets Tim Membrey and Max King back into the line-up, while fleet-footed forward Nicholas Hind has also been recalled to take on the Eagles.
Ryan Abbott, Jonathon Marsh and Ed Phillips have been forced out of the line-up in favour of the returning trio.
A torrid run with injury over the past fortnight has seen West Coast make six changes ahead of Thursday night.
Star ruckman Nic Naitanui, Premiership defenders Shannon Hurn and Will Schofield, along with Jarrod Brander, Jack Petruccelle and debutant Hamish Brayshaw have come into the line-up, while injured Eagles Mark Hutchings (hamstring), Jack Redden (thumb), Lewis Jetta (calf), Dom Sheed (hamstring) and Brendon Ah Chee (finger) have moved to the sidelines along with Tom Hickey (omitted).
The exemplary Eagles…
A rested Nic Naitanui (back) last weekend means Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall have their work well and truly cut out for them.
Naitanui’s supreme athleticism, ability to cover the ground, win his own clearances off the back of his brilliant ruckwork (ranked second for the Eagles’ total clearances) and clunk contested marks – all standard attributes for the star ruckman – loom as the Saints’ most dangerous commodity as they look to consolidate their spot in the top-eight.
While a wealth of Eagles midfielders will miss through injury, the brilliant touch of Andrew Gaff and the flair of Tim Kelly adds another layer of danger to the Saints’ finals prospects.
Gaff, who leads West Coast for total disposals (354), was well-held by Bulldog Toby McLean to register a considerably lesser tally (15) compared his high-numbers 2020 campaign, and will be intent on getting off the leash against the red, white and black.
Down back, the partnership of Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass has made the high-bomb inside-50 the equivalent of handing it to the Eagles on a silver platter.
The Saints will have to be incredibly measured moving into attack, especially with leading rebounders Brad Sheppard and Shannon Hurn adding to the All-Australian defence.
Up forward, the height and strength of goalkicking machines Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will require all of Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie’s concentration and skill, while added targets Oscar Allen and Jake Waterman will be incredibly testing for the young backline.
Another Eagles who has stepped up to another level in 2020 has been Liam Ryan, whose sharp field kicking and excitement around the big sticks has glittered in recent weeks.
A great deal has been made on West Coast’s form away from up home this season.
It’s taken time for the Eagles to settle into their new nest. From their eight matches in Queensland between the Gabba and Metricon Stadium, Adam Simpson’s side has won just three.
Unsurprisingly, the Eagles were victorious all seven of its 2020 matches at Optus Stadium.
For the Saints, this year’s record away from Marvel Stadium stands at six wins from 11 games.
On the injury front…
A rolled ankle to Nick Coffield in the final seconds of Round 16 cast initial doubt into his availability, but the proficient defender has ticked the right boxes to join this week’s line-up.
Meanwhile in the AFL's Gold Coast hub, Dan Hannebery has declared himself available for the Saints' potential finals campaign following hamstring surgery.
West Coast were hit hard by injury following their narrow loss to the Bulldogs, with Mark Hutchings (hamstring), Lewis Jetta (calf strain) and Jack Redden (thumb) leaving sizeable dents in its armour.
The luckless streak was worsened with news Brendon Ah Chee (finger) and Dom Sheed (hamstring) were ruled out for Round 17.
The sidelined Eagles join key Eagles Luke Shuey (hamstrings) and Elliot Yeo (groin), while former Saint Jamie Cripps has returned to Perth before the arrival of his first child.