The St Kilda Saints were unable to truly challenge the competition in season six, finishing at a lowly second-last position in their third year in the league.
13th (Two wins, eight losses)
The Saints struggled throughout last season, with various injuries to several key players and star midfielder Georgia Patrikios stepping away from the game in response to the league’s vaccine mandate.
With the new season also came a new coach as Saints legend Nick Dal Santo replaced Peta Searle at the helm
They experienced tough losses to the Tigers, Blues, Crows and Demons, with their two wins coming late in the season against the Suns and the Cats.
What to look forward to:
While the Saints lost key players over the trade and free agency windows, the youth that they have on display will look to take the next step and lead their team up the ladder.
The likes of Molly McDonald (21), Tyanna Smith (19) and new recruit J’Noemi Anderson (17) will be the driving force of this youth brigade and look to be competitive against more experienced competition.
While losing their runner-up best and fairest in Tilly Lucas-Rodd, the return of Patrikios is perfect to fill that hole again and allow their youth to develop.
Caitlin Greiser will be looking to get back to her best, after a tough season in front of goal. The addition of former Blue Nicola Stevens will be sure to help Greiser find plenty more of the footy and excite Saints fans once more.
Biggest unanswered question:
Arguably the biggest news for the Saints this off-season has been the announcement of the return of their superstar Patrikios.
With the league’s vaccine mandate lifted for the upcoming season, the door was opened for the young gun to return to Moorabbin and continue a stellar start to her career.
In a team that struggled in her absence last season, the biggest questions on Saints fans’ minds will be how much of an impact she can make on the team again this season.
If she is able to return to her form of two years ago, she will likely propel the Saints up the ladder and keep them in finals territory come the end of the season.
Patrikios won the best and fairest for St Kilda in both 2020 and 2021, along with being named in the All-Australian team in 2021.
It’s a big year for…
Former gun Blue Nicola Stevens was traded to the Saints in the first deal of the sign and trade period, with the Saints eager to add the experience of Stevens to its youthful list.
This will mean that Stevens must immediately take on a mentoring role with the Saints and lead their forward brigade, with the Saints lacking a significant presence in the forward half besides full-forward Caitlin Greiser.
The introduction of Stevens allows Greiser to gain more freedom from defenders, with Greiser unlikely to be targeted as often in the coming season.
A former All-Australian, Stevens will look to get back to her best form and be her lively self up forward for the Saints.
More AFLW Season Previews
The Saints will be looking for a big run home, with four out of their last five matches at RSEA Park capping off the 10 game season.
In Round 1, they will be the first side to face the Sydney Swans after the league expansion introduced four new teams to the competition.
In Rounds 4 and 5, the Saints will play the two sides they defeated last year, the Suns and the Cats, in hopes of repeating their efforts of back-to-back wins.
The final round of the season will see the Saints come up against reigning premiers the Crows at home, with the other of last year’s grand finalists, the Demons, also being played at home earlier in the season.
R1: vs. Sydney, Aug 27 (North Sydney Oval)
R2: vs. Hawthorn, Sep 4 (Box Hill City Oval)
R3: vs. Melbourne, Sep 11 (RSEA Park)
R4: vs. Gold Coast, Sep 17 (Great Barrier Reef Arena)
R5: vs. Geelong, Sep 22 (GMHBA Stadium)
R6: vs. Collingwood, Oct 1 (RSEA Park)
R7: vs. Carlton, Oct 7 (RSEA Park)
R8: vs. Western Bulldogs, Oct 16 (Mars Stadium)
R9: vs. Port Adelaide, Oct 23 (RSEA Park)
R10: vs. Adelaide, Oct 28-30 (RSEA Park)
Ins: Grace Kelly (West Coast), Erin McKinnon (GWS), Nicola Stevens (Carlton), J’Noemi Anderson (St Mary’s), Hannah Stuart (Southern Saints), Deanna Jolliffe (Southern Saints), Caitlin Matthews (Oakleigh Chargers), Simone Nalder (Essendon VFLW), Clara Fitzpatrick
Outs: Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Cat Phillips, Jacqui Vogt, Kate McCarthy, Isabella Shannon, Tahlia Meyer, Alana Woodward, Paige Price, Rhi Watt
Inactive: Leah Cutting (Work Commitments)
Predicted Round 1 line-up:
The Saints are still an extremely young side and have lost some key players from their previous seasons.
Fortunately for the side, the likely return of Tyanna Smith from injury and Patrikios back into the lineup means they will have a significant influx of talent that can allow them to steer clear of the bottom of the ladder.
While these returns may keep them afloat from the depths of the table, it is unlikely the Saints will play finals football this year as they continue to develop.
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