AFL 2 years ago

Dogs expect Saints will bring their best

  • Dogs expect Saints will bring their best

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 2: Sebastian Ross of the Saints is tackled by Caleb Daniel and Tom Boyd of the Bulldogs (top) during the 2016 AFL Round 02 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on April 2, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

St Kilda's AFL form is tougher to read than Melbourne weather.

The same team that was red-hot in the stunning round-14 win over Geelong also wilted a week later under the Gold Coast sun.

Lowly Essendon led them in the last quarter, while Melbourne had them under pressure twice last weekend before the Saints kicked clear.

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But Western Bulldogs midfielder Liam Picken says the St Kilda they will face on Saturday night are an easy read.

"We always get St Kilda's best when we play them," he said.

"They always seem to play really well against us and we've had some great games.

"Their pressure is right up there with the best.

"It's always hard and you probably expect nothing less on Saturday night."

The Bulldogs bit St Kilda by 57 points in round two, but Picken was referring more to last year's two clashes.

The Saints roared back from 55 points down early in the third quarter to beat the Bulldogs.

The return match was also a thriller, with the Dogs winning by a goal.

There is also plenty riding on Saturday night, given the Bulldogs are a game clear in third spot.

North Melbourne's slump means 10th-placed St Kilda also can also keep dreaming big this season.

Questions were asked of the Bulldogs after Geelong opened them up in round 13, but they have had three wins since and should be too good for the Saints.

After two tight games against Sydney and Richmond, the Bulldogs kicked more than 100 points for the first time since round 12 when they took care of Gold Coast in Cairns.

"We were really disappointed after Geelong," said Picken.

"We didn't play well, we didn't execute, we learned a lot from that.

"But in saying that, we're a young group and we've learned really quickly, especially this year.

"So we had the chance to work on a few things over the bye and things are coming together again."

Under coach Luke Beveridge, Picken was reinvented last season and he has continued to enjoy his AFL renaissance.

After establishing himself as a run-with player, Picken is now a much more attacking midfielder.

Picken, who turns 30 on August 1, has played every game this season.

"It's always good to have a change," he said.

"You probably don't expect it, but when it happens, you just have to evolve.

"The game is always changing and you have to change with it or you're left behind.

"It's a completely different role to just following someone around and having one job."

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