St Kilda will have one goal in mind come Saturday against Port Adelaide: four victories in four weeks.
In their best performance of the year last week, the Saints stormed home against the Lions to notch their third straight win and put themselves just outside the top-eight.
Now they will host Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium, where the game is currently scheduled, for the first time in eight years as they look to continue their momentum heading into the final rounds of the season, despite the lack of crowds due to the Victorian lockdown.
With the Power keen to find their way back onto the winners list, and St Kilda looking to push their way into the eight, Saturday's game will go a long way to deciding what September will look like.
Round 18 | 2021
St Kilda v Port Adelaide
Saturday 17 July
Marvel Stadium (Currently scheduled)
Broadcast live on Fox Footy and Kayo (Seven Network, South Australia)
A long drought broken
For the first time since Round 17, 2013, the Saints will host Port Adelaide at the Docklands.
It has been eight years since the Power travelled to Melbourne to take on St Kilda, in what was almost an outstanding come-from-behind win before Ken Hinkley’s men took home a thrilling five-point victory.
Both sides look vastly different nowadays to those that took part in the 2013 game, with the Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne still running out in St Kilda colours.
In the contests between the two sides since, the Power have hosted the Saints at Adelaide Oval and Football Park in every game, including last season when St Kilda were meant to host Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Port Adelaide have had the wood over St Kilda in those few years, with the Power having taken away seven wins from their eight matches against the Saints.
Unfortunately, there will be no crowds at the game due to the current lockdown restrictions in Victoria, however the Saints currently still have the home ground advantage against the Power for the first time in eight years.
It has been a season of two halves for St Kilda, who have taken the right steps towards shedding its inconsistent form to put together three wins on the trot.
Victories against Richmond, Collingwood and Brisbane have seen the Saints surge into top eight contention, sitting ninth at the end of the last round.
Their turnaround of form has been mainly thanks to Luke Dunstan, who is in career best form, as well as the emergence of younger teammates in Ryan Byrnes, Max King and Tom Highmore.
Dunstan has been a vital cog to the St Kilda engine room, offering strong support to Jack Steele, Brad Crouch and Zak Jones to form a formidable midfield quartet.
He has not dropped below 25 disposals once since his return to the side, with three of those games seeing the No. 7 have nine or more tackles.
Meanwhile, Byrnes has added an important bit of dash and flair to the side, Highmore is playing his role to perfection as the high-flying intercept defender and King is showing promising signs up forward.
Injured Power stars
While Port Adelaide remain an incredibly dangerous outfit, they will be disappointed to be heading to Melbourne without Zak Butters, Steven Motlop and Connor Rozee.
Butters went down against the Demons last week with a sprained medial ligament in his right knee, while Motlop and Rozee will also miss out due to injury.
Rozee and Motlop both sit at fourth and seventh in the goalkicking for the Power, while Motlop also leads the club for tackles inside-50s.
Butters averages 20 disposals and five tackles per game, and has had an interrupted season, with the clash against Melbourne his first game back since Round 4.
However, Port Adelaide will regain Riley Bonner back to their side, with Peter Ladhams and Boyd Woodcock joining the midfielder in the lineup.
Despite Motlop, Rozee and Butters all missing the game, the Power will be buoyed by their current away record this season, having won five out of their six games away from Adelaide Oval.
Some words from Ratts
St Kilda will head into Saturday night with an unchanged side to the one who beat Brisbane the week before.
Dean Kent retains his spot in the starting 22 after he was whisked into the side following the late out of Mason Wood.
Jack Bytel, Jack Lonie, Paul Hunter and Darragh Joyce will travel as emergencies, with a medical sub set to be named before the game.
On the radar
The key to the Port Adelaide engine room, Ollie Wines is in career-best form heading into Saturday night.
The 26-year-old is currently sitting third in the AFL for disposals, contested possessions and handballs, while leading the Power in these categories as well as stoppage clearances and inside-50s.
He is currently averaging 33 disposals per game, having notched 35+ touches six times this year, with a season-high of 43 which he achieved against the Gold Coast and Hawthorn.
Wines’ numbers have been elite this season, and St Kilda will be likely looking to use Luke Dunstan to reduce the impact of the Port Adelaide star, given the Saints' No. 7 has done similar shut-down jobs on Trent Cotchin and Ben Cunnington earlier in the season.
Keep an eye on
With an impressive leap and excellent intercept marking, Tom Highmore has certainly made an impression in his first season at the AFL level.
The youngster has galvanised the St Kilda defensive structure, fitting in well with Dougal Howard, Jimmy Webster and Callum Wilkie in the backline.
Following his breakout game against Adelaide in Round 13 that saw the Saints’ No. 34 collect 22 disposals and pull down 13 marks, Highmore collected 18 touches against the Tigers, 10 against Collingwood and then another 16 against Brisbane.
The 23-year-old is one of many young Saints who have contributed to a resurgence in St Kilda’s season, alongside Max King, Ryan Byrnes, Ben Long and Leo Connolly.
Last time we met
Despite securing two straight wins at the venue last season, St Kilda were not able to repeat their form at Adelaide Oval in Round 6 earlier this season, going down to the Power by 54 points on Anzac Day.
Ollie Wines starred with 36 disposals for Port Adelaide to win the Peter Badcoe Medal, while Orazio Fantasia and Steven Motlop booting three goals apiece.
For the Saints, Seb Ross stood tall with 31 disposals and Jack Steele was his consistent-self with 27 touches.
PORT ADELAIDE 4.1 8.3 11.8 14.9 (93)
ST KILDA 1.4 2.5 3.7 5.9 (39)
Port Adelaide: Motlop 3, Fantasia 3, Georgiades 2, Rozee 2, Dixon 2, Boak, Gray
St Kilda: Higgins, Hill, Marshall, Carlisle, Membrey
Port Adelaide: Amon, Motlop, Fantasia, Wines, Houston
St Kilda: Ross, Steele, Higgins, Marshall, Crouch
Moment of the match
While the match may have been one to forget for St Kilda, the game started out with a bang thanks to an amazing Jack Higgins' goal.
Off one step near the boundary, Higgins slammed the ball onto his left boot and somehow managed to curl it around for a miraculous goal to get the Saints off to the perfect start.