Saints need AFL consistency to topple Cats
St Kilda can't afford any costly lapses if they are to challenge AFL ladder-leaders Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night, says coach Alan Richardson.
The Saints have gone horribly off-track in sole quarters against their last three opponents - Brisbane, Richmond and North Melbourne - leading to blow-out losses.
To chalk their first victory in Geelong since 1999, they will need to deliver consistently.
Richardson needs to win a final to guarantee his job, although currently 15th and two games out of the eight that's looking very unlikely.
"It's frustrating us," Richardson said on Friday.
"We've gone from being a real challenger to now having a lot of work in front of us to be able to play finals, that's pretty obvious, so it's been our biggest issue and one we are addressing.
"We've been playing some good footy for big parts of the game but the drop-off has been too great so our focus is to make sure we get 120 minutes."
Richardson attributed the inconsistency to the lack of experience in his playing group, losing leaders such as skipper Jarryn Geary to a season-ending injury and Dylan Roberton before round one, while star recruit Dan Hannebery has hardly played.
Richardson said former Swan Hannebery had got close to playing against the Cats before being ruled out for the second straight week.
"He actually doesn't have an injury," Richardson said of the 28-year-old.
"He's just pulled up really sore after a couple of weeks of AFL footy and it just made sense.
"We were hopeful it would only be the one week, but he's still just been a little bit sore and a little bit 'DOMSy' (delayed onset muscle soreness) but we're really confident that he'll be right to go next week."
The Saints are hopeful four-time best and fairest Jack Steven will return before long after taking time out to deal with mental health issues.
Steven has only managed four games this season.
"His training the past few weeks is the training of a fella that's loving his footy again, really enjoying being around his teammates and really enjoying being at the footy club," Richardson said.
"I've become optimistic that we are a chance to see Jack and hopefully it's soon."