Adam Kingsley says the Giants are in much better shape than the last time when they lost at the MCG. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

MCG stage has Saints, Giants buzzing for finals battle

Shayne Hope September 9, 2023

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon’s famous “anywhere, anytime” mantra doesn’t carry the same weight when his team is playing just a few kilometres from home.

Nevertheless, it’s a theme the Saints have embraced ahead of Saturday’s elimination final against GWS at the MCG.

The AFL’s edict to hold finals at the largest available venues meant St Kilda were denied their wish to take on the Giants in the home comfort of Marvel Stadium.

The league expects a crowd of more than 65,000 – greater than the Docklands ground’s capacity – to justify the decision.

“I’m sure if it was at Marvel it would’ve been packed out, so hopefully we get a fair few more than that,” Saints defender Jack Sinclair told AAP.

“I’m happy to be at the ‘G in front of a bigger crowd and most finals are played there anyway, so it’s something we’ve got to get used to.”

St Kilda have played twice at the MCG this season; a win over Essendon in their 150-year anniversary match and a loss to Richmond.

While not at their regular home ground, Saturday’s elimination final will be the Saints’ first final in Melbourne since 2011.

Their only other finals series in the last 12 years was in 2020, when they played knockout matches at the Gabba and Carrara during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The excitement building within a long-suffering St Kilda fanbase is palpable.

“You get a sense of the anticipation,” Sinclair said.

“It’s been a long time since we had a home final and some of us have only played in finals in Queensland up in the hub, which doesn’t really feel like it was real.”

GWS have won just about everywhere this season, saluting at a record 10 venues around the country.

The list includes Marvel Stadium, where the Giants ended Carlton’s nine-match winning streak in round 24 to book a finals berth.

But they lost on their only trip to the MCG, going down to Collingwood by 65 points back in round nine.

“It wasn’t a great game. We didn’t play particularly well,” GWS coach Adam Kingsley said.

“It was a fair while ago. I think our game’s in better shape since then.

“I don’t think the ground or the 70,000 (fans) that’s projected to be there will have a negative impact on us.

“In fact, I think it will have a positive impact and I know our guys are really looking forward to getting down there and getting stuck in.”