2020 FINISHED 6th 10 wins 7 losses
“CAN THE SAINTS WIN THE CLOSE GAMES”
The Saints were one of the “feel good” stories of 2020. With Brett Ratten at the helm the Saints made a big jump and played finals for the first time since 2011. It certainly rubber stamped the boards decision to appoint Ratten. At the same time perhaps consolidated the thoughts of many Carlton people that perhaps he was the man they needed to keep all those years ago.
On the back of a great 2020 St Kilda has had a HUGE off season indicating they feel their time is now. They recruited former Crow Brad Crouch on a big 5 year deal and they also secured the services off former Richmond premiership player Jack Higgins. Not stopping there they also added key talls Shaun McKernan and James Frawley and when you throw a fully fit Dan Hanneberry there does look some genuine upside.
The other aspect that will fill Ratten with some confidence is that the Saints lost a lot of close games (lost 4 games under a kick). History shows sides that have done this tend to capitalise on these opportunities the following season and with the improved list as outlined above this is a definite possibility.
Ratten has this group connected and they seem to be a big beneficiary of the hub. It really seems to have been a terrific bonding experience and it will be interesting to see whether they can create the same chemistry back in Melbourne.
St Kilda were the number 1 play on team in 2020 and it will be worth watching to see if Ratten persists with this or whether he encourages a bit more ebb and flow in their game. The Saints will look to finals action again in season 2021.
2021 PREDICTION-ST KILDA 7th – 13 WINS
2020 FINISHED 16th 5 wins 12 losses
“BUDDY IS BACK BUT SWANS HAVE ENGINE ROOM ISSUES”
On the surface its very possible the Swans can look to make some progress up the AFL ladder. The former “certain” finalists have had a low couple of seasons with 2 bottom 4 finishes, but it hasn’t been to no avail. Longmire has blooded a lot of youth and this season will determine the depth of that talent pool.
Buddy is obviously a HUGE component on whether Sydney climb. He is a match winner and gives them some real structure. Let’s face it if you have Buddy up and firing in your team you may feel better about your chances in some of these games. Perhaps the greatest value he can bring is give confidence to the players around him, and he will be like a beacon for the defenders coming out under pressure.
Sydney’s game style was a bit strange last year and maybe it was due to being “Buddyless”. They really tried to get slingshot footy going, they conceded a heap of inside 50’s but were able to generate some nice run and sharing of the ball their defence held up particularly strongly. The Swans probably need to create some more pressure up the ground to create turnovers in their offensive half so they can win the territory battle a bit more.
Sydney also have BIG issues in their midfield as the normally reliable blue collar workforce has had limited help. It’s time now for the likes of Heeney, Mills and maybe Papley to lift their game time in the middle and replace the old firm of Kennedy and Parker. These senior guys are still playing ok but the demographic of this side demands some youth step up around the ball.
2021 PREDICTION-SYDNEY 14th – 8 WINS