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Match preview: Geelong v St Kilda

Pick a Winner: Geel v StK Duck and Browny preview the Cats v Saints

SUMMARY
With Geelong and St Kilda heading in at 1-2, Sunday's twilight fixture becomes a crunch match for both clubs. Calls for Saints coach Alan Richardson to tinker with his forward set-up will grow louder after St Kilda managed just 12 majors in the past two weeks. After employing Ben Dixon as a goalkicking coach this year, the inefficient Saints will be looking to realign their radar, kicking a combined 26 behinds in the past fortnight. Geelong's ruck set-up has been a changing commodity in the first three rounds, using Zac Smith, Rhys Stanley and Esava Ratugolea as their No.1 ruckman in their three matches. An inexperienced Cats defence is tipped to meet the Saints' talls – Jack Henry, Zach Guthrie, Tom Stewart combining for 38 AFL matches. Despite missing Gary Ablett (hamstring), Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood remain from the much talked-about trio, and will look to add further woe to a Saints' midfield that has lost the clearance count in every match this year.

WHERE AND WHEN: GMHBA Stadium, Sunday, April 15, 4.40pm

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

LAST FIVE MEETINGS
R5, 2017: Geelong 19.12 (126) d St Kilda 13.10 (88) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2016: St Kilda 14.9 (93) d Geelong 13.12 (90) at Etihad Stadium
R21, 2015: St Kilda 14.13 (97) drew with Geelong 15.7 (97) at Etihad Stadium
R13, 2014: Geelong 20.13 (133) d St Kilda 5.7 (37) at GMHBA Stadium
R18, 2013: Geelong 21.11 (137) d St Kilda 5.6 (36) at GMHBA Stadium

THE SIX POINTS
1. As Joel Selwood surpasses Reg Hickey for most games (143) as Geelong captain, he'll be looking for a replica of his last meeting with the Saints. As the Cats trailed by five points at three quarter-time in round five last year, they kicked eight goals to one in the final quarter, Selwood starring with 43 disposals, one goal, nine tackles and nine clearances. 

2. St Kilda's form this season could be down to the disparity between uncontested and contested possessions. In uncontested ball, the Saints sit first in the competition, but they're 17th in contested disposals. Geelong is equal 14th for contested possessions.

3. The Cats are the top-ranked contested marking team in 2018 averaging 13.3 per game, well ahead of the Saints, who sit 15th with an average of 8.3.

4. As Geelong returns to play its first game at GMHBA Stadium this season, the Cats will be buoyed by the Saints' poor record at the venue – St Kilda hasn't won there since 1999. In their past two meetings at the ground, the Saints have lost by a combined 197 points.  

5. Averaging six goals in their past two outings, St Kilda's lack of scoring will be further hampered by the loss of Darren Minchington, who averages three goals per match in his three matches against the Cats.  

6. Geelong recruit Tim Kelly continues to skyrocket up the Schick AFL Player Ratings, currently leading all first-year players in the competition. Kelly is ranked 526th overall, while first-year teammate Lachie Fogarty (562) is fourth after their first three games.  

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Returning to Geelong to play in his backyard in front of family and friends, Paddy McCartin will be looking for a turnaround in his form – in three games this season, McCartin has registered just one major.

PREDICTION:
Geelong by 32 points.

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