St Kilda is rolling after a fourth consecutive win elevated it to a 9-6 record. The barnstorming win against Richmond last week was as good as the Saints have played this year. Essendon will be prepared though and has shown it can play some formidable football. The Bombers' devastating forward line can burn up the track at Etihad Stadium, with speedy trio Orazio Fantasia, Josh Green and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti particularly dangerous. However, the Saints have their own band of smalls who can cause damage. Jade Gresham knows how to sniff out a goal, even if his set shots have been susceptible, while Jack Billings' match-winning capabilities have shone through in 2017. Conversion could be an issue for the Saints though. While they were largely accurate against the Tigers, they have kicked more behinds than goals nine times in 15 games. The Bombers are good enough to capitalise on mistakes and should be desperate to stay in the finals hunt.
WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Friday, July 14, 7.50pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FIVE TIMES
R16, 2016, St Kilda 17.7 (109) d Essendon 14.14 (98) at Etihad Stadium
R9, 2016, St Kilda 16.13 (109) d Essendon 9.9 (63) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2015, St Kilda 25.12 (162) d Essendon 8.4 (52) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2015, Essendon 11.16 (82) d St Kilda 11.14 (80) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2014, St Kilda 11.15 (81) d Essendon 9.11 (65) at Etihad Stadium
THE SIX POINTS
1. Jack Steven ran rampant for St Kilda when these sides last met, in round 16, 2016. He finished with 41 disposals, 12 tackles and 12 clearances as the Saints held off a determined Essendon.
2. The Saints are ranked third for uncontested possessions, with 256.7 per game. They are just ahead of Essendon, which is fourth at 256.3 per game.
3. Essendon is the best first-quarter team in the AFL, having won the first term 12 times out of 15.
4. St Kilda is looking to post its fourth-straight victory against Essendon, a streak it hasn't managed against the Bombers since 1970-71.
5. The Saints are aiming to string five matches in a row for the first time since round 16-20 in 2011. Meanwhile, the Bombers will be chasing consecutive wins for the third time this year.
6. Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia cracked the top 100 of the Schick AFL Player Ratings for the first time in his career after he snagged five goals against Collingwood. He sits at No.95 going into round 17.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Jake Carlisle
The defender comes up against his former side for the first time and has been in impressive form for the Saints, with his intercept marking and one-on-one contest work proving useful assets. Those skills will be important against aerial threats Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker.
PREDICTION: St Kilda by two points.