AFL 2019 Round Three: Fremantle v St Kilda – Five Reasons to Watch.

Looking for plans this Sunday afternoon? Here’s five reasons you should turn on the Dockers and the Saints.

Round Three will end with the undefeated Saints taking on Fremantle, fresh off a shock loss against the Suns, at Optus Stadium. Anybody saying they know what to expect from this clash are telling lies.

The Dockers were impressive at home in Round One against the Kangaroos but were less so against an inexperienced Suns team a week later. The Saints have opened the season two from two but have not been as impressive as their record suggests.

It looms as a big match for both teams.


Last Five Meetings

2018Rd 8Freo13.11 (89)StK8.11 (59)OS41,752
2017Rd 15StK12.17 (89)Freo12.8 (80)PS30,541
2016Rd 10StK15.11 (101)Freo10.7 (67)ES17,927
2015Rd 19Freo15.6 (96)StK8.11 (59)ES16,409
2014Rd 18StK17.16 (118)Freo9. 6 (60)ES16,549

The Dockers are one of the few teams in the AFL that the Saints enjoy a winning record against having won 19 of the 34 matches since 1995. In counter to this, St Kilda lost the last encounter between the teams and is yet to taste victory at Optus Stadium, the scene of Sunday’s match.


Five reasons to watch

Strange things happen when they meet.

When you think of the strangest events in football over the last 25 years, most of them took place in a match between these two sides. Umpire intercepting a kick – Fremantle v St Kilda in 1999. Sirengate – St Kilda v Fremantle in 2006. Whispers in the sky – Fremantle v St Kilda in 2005. The reason why there is a week’s break between Round 23 and the Finals – St Kilda v Fremantle in 2013. What will be the next chapter in this rivalry of unusual events?


Nat Fyfe.

Sydney 2005 Premiership Coach Paul Roos voiced a belief this week that Nat Fyfe’s defensive running was at ‘the bottom end of AFL standard’. A player that has enjoyed playing the Saints in recent times he was always likely to be a factor in this game but is doubly so now he has a point to prove.

He won’t get too many better opportunities to prove the fallacy of Roos statement than an afternoon opposed to Jack Steele. Not only will the Saint make Fyfe work for his kicks, he will demand attention from the Brownlow Medallist with his ability to hurt the opposition going forward.


Saints Pressure.

Alan Richardson’s men are still a work in progress in attack but their defensive pressure has been top shelf in the first fortnight of the season. Top five year to date in both tackles and 1%, the Saints will be working hard on this aspect again this week to ensure that Fremantle cannot produce the kind of free running play they displayed in Round One against North Melbourne.


Lobb v Marshall.

The Saints have struggled in the ruck contest for a number of seasons now and were comprehensively beaten in this area again last week against the Bombers. Surprisingly, given this information, the Dockers have dropped their most dominant ruckman Sean D’Arcy for this match. It suggests the Dockers intention to use Lobb’s greater mobility in an attempt to minimise Marshall’s ability to act as a pseudo fifth onballer for the Saints.


Jade Gresham.

The number four jersey is a revered one at St Kilda but it seems to sit comfortably on the back of the 21-year-old Gresham. Still early in his career but the forward-come-midfielder is quietly announcing himself as a player to watch in the competition. With 79 goals from just 64 games, his nose for goal is well known but, a natural ball-winner, with more time on the ball his ability to impact on the game is growing by the week.


The Verdict

It might be round three but this could prove a crossroads game for both teams in season 2019. For the Saints, a road trip gives them an opportunity to further rehabilitate a reputation tattered by a disastrous 2018 season. For the Dockers a return home provides a chance to bounce back after a disappointing slip up last week. Both teams are a work in progress, will momentum or home ground advantage prevail?

St Kilda will win by 15 points.


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