The Saints may have gotten back onto the winners column on the weekend, but skipper Jack Steele is determined to improve on the performance as his side prepares to hit the road for an extended period.
St Kilda got the chocolates over North Melbourne by 20 points on Saturday. It wasn’t a pretty affair, with the Saints going at 70 percent with the ball and taking their foot off the gas in the final term. Steel acknowledged it was a step in the right direction, but a performance that wouldn’t beat too many sides in the league.
“We reviewed it pretty heavily over the last couple of days and basically saw that our energy and our edge in the first three quarters was at a high level and something that we were pretty happy with,” he said.
“It dropped away in the last quarter, which was very disappointing against a side like North Melbourne that probably isn’t going too well this year.
“We should be able to bury them further into the ground and… get our percentage up that we lost earlier this year.
“That’s one stage of progression with this group – getting that hard edge about us, and being able to do that to sides.”
Finals footy not a fantasy
The Saints now sit in 12th with a record of 5-6. They’re on the same wins as Essendon in ninth, but an abysmal percentage of 76.4 means they’re effectively a game down on the teams on the same wins at this stage of the season.
A fortnight of winnable footy awaits, and Steele knows they need to win both games against the Swans and Crows to keep pace with the eight.
“It’s obviously still our goal to make the finals, and… we’ve got two very winnable games coming up before our bye if that whats happens with our fixture,” Steele stated.
“So to get ahead of the ledger by then would be really nice, and get things on our terms. I feel like we still need to win an extra game on top of that just with how our percentage is.
“[Finals is] definitely still a goal of ours and we see it as a very achievable one.”
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To make finals, St Kilda will probably need to win seven of their remaining 11 games of the season. They’ve sought new method during games, including swinging Brad Hill to defence in order to generate some drive down the field. Some media pundits have even questioned if individual players were up to fitness standards. Steele wouldn’t single out individuals, but is focusing on the consistency of performance from here on out.
“A lot of people [are] out of form, a lot of people down on confidence,” Steele admitted.
“Our probably game model at the start of the year wasn’t quite right, so we’ve tweaked things here and there and now it’s just about getting consistent performance.
“We sort of laid down foundations a few weeks ago about some standards and some training habits that we want to get in line and we understand that it’s not going to click straight away. It might take a couple weeks, it might take a couple months but we’re sort of building towards something a bit better and I wouldn’t say that comes down to a lack of fitness, that’s for sure.
On the road again
St Kilda made the finals in 2020, and won a final for the first time in a decade. The club was shifted around the country, and spent significant time in the Queensland hub during the season.
It’s a reality that faces them again in 2021 with clubs being moved out of Victoria for round 12. The Saints are determined to replicate the form they showed in the hubs 12 months ago, and think it may be the circuit breaker for them to go on and make something out of a lacklustre season so far.
“We’re pretty excited about it all really,” Steele said.
“Obviously we haven’t been told just yet what our plans are for the next couple of weeks but I know this group is pretty much open to anything that’s thrown our way so once we have our plans we’ll jet off.
“We’re really looking forward to getting away and getting the group close together and hopefully getting a few wins on the road.
“I feel like getting a bit of connection back amongst us is definitely going to give us an opportunity to perform better on the field. We’ll wait and see. We can’t really blame that for our performances this year, but hopefully we’ll get up there, and get a bit closer together.
Steele joined teammate Jack Billings watching on at training today. It raised questions, but he quickly dispelled rumours and clarified that they’d both be right to go on the weekend.
“We both sort of have a few niggly injuries like a lot of players do throughout the season, so we’re just getting managed here and there. We’re all good, don’t worry about that.”
St Kilda will face Sydney on Saturday afternoon, with the venue still to be determined.
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