Saints call on Bruce to help misfiring attack
ST KILDA has sent an SOS to out-of-sorts forward Josh Bruce in a bid to turn its form around in Adelaide.
Bruce has been recalled by senior coach Alan Richardson after booting four goals in the VFL last week.
The 24-year-old was a revelation when moved into attack in 2015, kicking 50 goals. But his form has tapered off since late last year.
Bruce has kicked just 16 goals in his past 11 games, including 13 from eight this season.
The Saints will hope he can fire alongside Tim Membrey and Patrick McCartin against a Crows defence led by talls Daniel Talia, Kyle Hartigan and Jake Lever, who has been cleared to play after an ankle injury scare against Geelong.
"Our ability to finish off our work has been frustrating. If you look at entry versus opposition and rebound versus opposition, most of our footy's been heading the right way," Richardson said.
"The ability to be able to convert our work has been a bit of a struggle for us. That's not just forwards, that's a bit of the way we bring the ball in."
Nick Riewoldt (knee) is the club's leading goalkicker with 17, but is still another week away from returning.
The much-maligned McCartin has failed to fire, kicking 4.7 in his four games, but Richardson is keeping the faith.
"We like the way Paddy's preparing for games of footy now. He's able to get out there and do much more training at a really high level, and we think sooner rather than later that's going to result in really strong performance," Richardson said.
The Saints have lost their past two games, kicking a total of just 17 goals in defeats to Sydney and the Bulldogs.
The Crows have lost three of their past five games but Richardson expects them to be an "aggressive challenge" for his developing team.
"We think we've probably bridged the gap (to the top teams) a little but but not enough, we know we're up against an opposition that will respond," he said.
The Saints have lost their past six games against the Crows and past six in Adelaide.
Richardson said tagging Crows onball star Rory Sloane would be an option, but the Saints had to be mindful of the Crows' quality and depth around stoppages.
"Rory is a good player and he's in good form. There's been a lot of noise about the fact opposition clubs have gone after him but they've got a good midfield and a lot of depth," Richardson said.
"We got to be careful and be mindful of a lot of their players but without compromising our method ... I thought Geelong just really went after their own game and weren't spooked by the fact they were playing against a really good team."
with Gilbert Gardiner