St Kilda’s AFL finals ambitions are at the tipping point.
If they beat Melbourne in Sunday’s MCG clash, the Saints stay in control of their destiny and remain on track for a return to September.
Should they lose, they have to start relying on what happens to teams above them on the ladder.
The Saints are 11th and the Demons are one spot above them on 10 wins apiece.
Eighth-placed Essendon are ahead of them on percentage with three rounds left.
After Melbourne the Saints play North Melbourne and Richmond.
“What tomorrow is, certainly for us given our percentage… (the game) still keeps it in our control,” St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said.
“You win 13 games, you’re very, very, unlikely to miss.
“If you lose tomorrow, then it’s very much up to what other teams do … (we will) need a bit of luck.
“It’s good to have our destiny in our control.”
Melbourne, like the Saints, have won only one of their past four games.
The Demons dropped four players, led by Jack Watts, and coach Simon Goodwin spoke of the need for more ferocity in their game.
The hotter it is, the better, for the Saints, who are coming off a tight win over West Coast.
“We couldn’t have come off a better game from that perspective; we ended up winning the contest by 30-odd,” Richardson said.
“That’s when we’re playing our best footy, (when) we’re strong in that space, so it will be a really fierce contest.”
Tall utility Sam Gilbert will return from a broken finger but veteran Nick Riewoldt was ruled out because of concussion.
Richardson said Riewoldt was close to being available and did not take well to the call by the club medical staff.
“He certainly challenges the doctors and that’s an understatement. Tthey’ve asked for mouthguards and head gear after the way he reacted to their call,” Richardson said.
“That’s been his greatest strength … he’s a driven, ambitious, competitive person.”