As we hit the bye rounds in the AFL season, The Inner Sanctum will be conducting our mid-season reviews of all 18 clubs and assessing the first half of the season and what fortunes may lie ahead.
Up next, St Kilda.
The Saints were predicted by many, to be pushing for a spot in the top four in 2021 after winning their first final in over 10 years last season.
However, after a horror start to the year the Saints now sit 13th on the ladder with five wins and eight losses and after a six-point loss to the Crows their finals chances are all but over.
Not much has gone right for the Saints so far this season.
In the last six weeks, free agent recruit Brad Crouch has started to string some form together averaging 29.8 disposals and 7.1 tackles a game, imposing himself in the centre of the ground.
The Saints may have also unearthed some exciting young talent amid their injury crisis.
Ryan Byrnes, Tom Highmore, and Jack Bytel have managed to play over half the games this season and at certain points shown glimpses for the future.
Byrnes had 24 disposals and 12 marks against the Bulldogs, Highmore had 22 disposals and 13 marks against the Crows and Bytel had 21 disposals and eight tackles against the Hawks.
Injuries and inaccurate kicking have plagued the Saints season to date.
After a minimal number of injuries to good players last season the Saints couldn’t maintain their good fortune.
For the Crows game, coach Brett Ratten could only just field a squad of 26 as key players spend long periods on the sideline.
Ben Paton broke his leg in a training mishap in the preseason, Rowan Marshall has battled a stress fracture in his foot, Jade Gresham suffered an Achilles tear in round four, Zak Jones has missed weeks with a quad tear and Hunter Clark will now likely miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken jaw against Adelaide.
While the Saints have been beaten badly in some of their games, in others they have kicked themselves out of it, especially against Geelong and Sydney.
Their goal kicking woes are a sign that they lack the confidence that carried them to last year’s semi-final.
Best and Fairest (Trevor Barker Award) Contenders:
Co-captain Jack Steele has put his hand up for back-to-back Trevor Barker Awards after averaging 27.5 disposals, 7.9 tackles, and 5.9 clearances a game.
Tim Membrey will be giving Steele a run for his money, averaging 15.5 disposals and 7.5 marks, whilst standing up in pivotal moments.
MORE AFL MID-SEASON REVIEWS
Who needs to lift?:
The Saints as a whole need to lift as they enter the back half of the season, but the pressure will be on their group of small forwards.
Dan Butler, Jack Lonie, and Jack Higgins have been somewhat underwhelming this season and need to lift their forward pressure as well as their conversion in front of goal.
Expectations for the 2nd half of the season:
The Saints will have to reset their season goals as they enter the second half of the season.
With finals now all but out of the equation, the Saints will have to now shift their focus onto future assaults for their elusive second premiership.
Saints fans will be demanding their team to show some heart in the back half of the season and provide them with the faith that they do have the list that can win them a premiership