Each Thursday we choose one game in the upcoming round and look back at some of the more memorable previous encounters between the two clubs, as well as some key stats to remember heading into game day.
Western Bulldogs V St. Kilda
Saturday May 9, Etihad Stadium, 2.10pm
The Bulldogs and the Saints face off this Saturday afternoon as two young, up and coming sides of the competition.
However, just five years ago both were vying for an elusive second premiership.
Both sides made three consecutive Preliminary Finals between 2008 and 2010, while the Saints made two consecutive Grand Finals in 2009 and 2010, plus the famous 2010 Grand Final replay.
Today, we take a brief look back at the 2009 Preliminary Final, where St. Kilda held on to defeat the Bulldogs by just seven points 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53), in a thrilling contest.
St. Kilda finished the season on top of the ladder and was clearly the best team of the home and away season. The Dogs finished in third spot, five games behind the Saints.
The Preliminary Final was always going to be a defensive struggle, as is Ross Lyon’s style.
The Bulldogs started the better of the two sides, with a two goal to nothing opening term. However, as had become the norm throughout the 2009 season, St. Kilda’s experience and hard-nosed defence slowly got them back into the game and got on top of the Dogs.
Lenny Hayes and Nick Dal Santo were at their brilliant best with 34 and 31 disposals respectively, while Nick Riewoldt kicked four goals. Ryan Griffen was the best for the Dogs with 28 disposals, while Brad Johson scored two goals.
The Bulldogs had 17 more inside 50s (57-40) and had three more scoring shots (18-15), however, failed to take advantage of their chances on the night.
Despite the close score line, for the neutral, the game lacked the excitement and frenetic pace of a high scoring end to end shootout.
But for all the negative comments surrounding Ross Lyon’s game plan at St. Kilda, he must be commended on just getting the job done week in, week out.
At the beginning of the third term, St.Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt was awarded a controversial free kick down field before the ball was even bounced, thanks to a shove from Bulldog defender Brian Lake.
Riewoldt then slotted the goal to get the Saints to within one point of the Dogs.
The most important and most memorable moment of the match came in the dying minutes. With St. Kilda leading by just one point, Nick Riewoldt produced a crucial toe-poke goal in the goal square, that will long haunt Bulldog fans in their sleep.
The goal capped off a stellar individual performance from Riewoldt, and handed his side victory to send the Saints through to the Big dance against Geelong the following week.
Ironically, it was Matthew Scarlett’s famous toe-poke to Gary Ablett that arguably won the Cats the Grand Final against the Saints a week later.
St. Kilda went on to beat the Bulldogs in the Preliminary Final again the following year to make their second Grand final in as many years, this time against Collingwood.
Things are very different these days however, with the Bulldogs stunning everyone to sit third on the ladder after five rounds with a 4-1 record.
The Saints have not beaten the Dogs since 2012, and unfortunately for Saints fans, with the form the Bulldogs are in, don’t expect this to change this Saturday afternoon.