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Five talking points: West Coast v St Kilda

Highlights: West Coast v St Kilda The Eagles and Saints clash in round 23
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 5: Nic Naitanui of the West Coast Eagles contests a ruck with Jason Holmes of the St Kilda Saints during the 2015 AFL round 23 match between the West Coast Eagles and the St Kilda Saints at Domain Stadium, Perth, Australia on September 5, 2015. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Nic Naitanui and Jason Holmes' ruck battle could make the highlight reels of US networks this week

1. Masten blow
A terrible night for all the contenders, bar Peel Thunder, I mean Fremantle, continued with the Eagles losing midfield ace Chris Masten to a hamstring injury. The 21 days average rehab takes it through to September 26, which is the Saturday of preliminary final weekend. Bad news for Masten but it brings Scott Selwood into calculations for next Friday night’s qualifying final against Hawthorn. Selwood was due to play a second full game of WAFL on Sunday in an elimination final for East Perth against Claremont. He may find his time on the field cut a bit now though.

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2. New name on the list
You have to go back to 2001 since the Saints’ leading goalkicker wasn’t Nick Riewoldt, Stephen Milne or Fraser Gehrig. But Josh Bruce has broken the trend and grabbed the crown with his 50 goals for 2015. It also reflected the changing role of Riewoldt up the ground in the latter stages of his great career which has yielded 648 goals in 298 games so far.

3. Big men fly
The ruckmen in this game – Nic Naitanui and Jason Holmes – didn’t just fly, they hovered. Former US basketballer Holmes looks to be the only player capable of matching Naitanui’s astounding leap and their soaring centre bounce clashes will probably be replayed on American TV this week. Nic Nat gave him a lesson on Saturday night but if Holmes can develop his footy a bit more this will be a match-up to watch for years to come.

4. Coleman coming
We knew it was coming but Josh Kennedy officially sewed up the Coleman Medal (unless Jeremy Cameron (61) boots 15 on Sunday against Melbourne). He becomes the first Eagle to take the goalkicking award since Scott Cummings in 1999. Kennedy’s total of 75 was the highest since 2010 when Jack Riewoldt won with 78 goals. The last man to kick 100 was Buddy Franklin in 2008.

5. Saints stick together
Adam Schneider retired before round 22 but he looks likely to be the only Saint to call it a day with veterans Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna going on, and defender Sam Fisher keen to play on as well. But it’s their young brigade that must excite the Saints faithful. Hugh Goddard, 19, was strong in defence and even got forward and booted a goal before being subbed off at half-time. Brodie Murdoch, 21, kicked a beautiful long, left-foot goal in the first term and 20-year-old Luke Dunstan shows plenty. With Jack Billings, 20, Blake Acres, 19, and No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin to come in next year the future’s so bright they might need shades.

 
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs