Sun, Jul 17, 9:04am by Staff Writer
What goes LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLWL? Melbourne at Etihad Stadium since 2007. What goes LLLLLLLLLLLLL? Melbourne against St Kilda since 2007. What goes around at $1.77? Melbourne on Sunday at Etihad against the Saints. Go figure.
This looks an intriguing match-up between two teams which are gradually improving and eyeing finals contention over the next couple of years. Both teams have won seven and lost eight this year, which has probably exceeded expectations.
The difference in the market is probably a reflection of the perception of both teams. There is a mini hype bubble building at the Demons with the emergence of a young star Jesse Hogan as well as some key midfield support for Nathan Jones, who after a few years of carrying the load, has now got a few friends to help him win the ball, including Jack Viney and Dom Tyson, while ruckman Max Gawn has had a break-out year.
All good teams are built from defence, and Tom McDonald has established himself as arguably the league’s best young defender while the use of Bernie Vince across half back has changed the way the Demons rebound.
But while the positives abound for Melbourne, they have still only beaten one side currently in the eight, GWS in the first round, and lost games they should have against Essendon and St Kilda. The won-loss looks much better than it has previously but the draw has been kind.
The Saints’ improvement has not been as consistent as Melbourne this season, they have had some really great games and they have had some ordinary weeks. They lost narrowly to Hawthorn and North Melbourne, while they caused just about the upset of the season three weeks ago with a win over Geelong. Their three terrible losses of the year have all come interstate against West Coast (R8) Adelaide (R11) and Gold Coast (R15).
The fact this game is an Etihad is of considerable benefit to St Kilda as they have won their past five games at the ground. In nine games, this year, the Saints have averaged 94 points for and 88 against. Away from the comfort of their Docklands home, they average just 81 points for and 129 against. That makes them an eight-goal better side at Etihad.
Compare that to Melbourne, who clearly despite the 3km trip across town, having only won there once in nine years, a R23 victory over GWS last year. Their one trip there this year saw them easily beaten by the Saints in R6, with the Saints’ young midfielders Black Acres, Sebastian Ross and Jack Steven dominant. Tim Membrey proved a surprise forward target with five goals, although Hogan kicked seven for the Dees.
So why are they Demons favourites? I don’t know. Get on the Saints!
Best Bet: St Kilda to win $2.20 with Sportsbet
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