The Saints will rue what could have been at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, with Geelong able to grind out a 21-point win  – their fourth from their past five games with their only defeat in that period a two-point loss to Sydney at the SCG. 

Cam Guthrie deserves plenty of the credit for Geelong's win, with the All-Australian and reigning best and fairest stepping up in the second half and finishing with 36 disposals and a goal. Mitch Duncan was also terrific with 30 disposals, while Isaac Smith grew into the game with 27 and plenty of dash.

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Brad Crouch was St Kilda's best with 28 disposals and five clearances while co-captain Jack Steele had seven clearances to go with his 23 touches. They also will count the cost of the defeat, with ruckman Rowan Marshall going down with a suspected foot injury in the third term.

The story could have been so different. The Saints dominated the first quarter, but went into the opening break a goal behind due to their inaccuracy.

Simple misses to Marshall, Max King and then Tim Membrey in the opening minutes set the tone for a nervy Saints' line-up, which registered seven behinds without a goal in the first quarter. The Cats were more efficient but the scoreboard flattered Chris Scott's men, who showed vulnerable signs in defence. 

It took the Saints two more behinds until they broke their drought after King converted his pack mark. It gave his side a shot of belief, with the Saints edging ahead when Dan Butler slotted his shot later in the second quarter.

St Kilda went into the main break with a slender three-point lead but had significant control on the contest, with Geelong under pressure throughout and a far cry from the side that steamrolled reigning premiers Richmond in the second half last week. 

But the Cats' experience wrestled the game back on their terms in the third quarter, with their midfield, led by the in-form Guthrie, lifting and Duncan getting more involved. The overlap run of Geelong appeared, having been missing in action for the first half, and they took a five-point lead into the final term.  

They extended from there, with St Kilda's inability to finish proving as costly as it looked like it would early in the game. It was death by a thousand misses, with Geelong beneficiaries of the self-sabotage near goal.

ST KILDA          0.7    3.11   4.13    5.17 (47)
GEELONG          2.1    4.2     6.6      10.8 (68)

St Kilda: Membrey 2, Butler, King, Steele
Geelong: Close 2, Hawkins 2, Rohan 2, Cameron, C.Guthrie, Menegola, Narkle

St Kilda: Crouch, Ross, Billings, Sinclair, Membrey, Ryder
Geelong: C.Guthrie, Tuohy, Duncan, Smith, Stewart, Close, Henderson

St Kilda: Marshall (foot)
Geelong: Dahlhaus replaced in selected side by Jordan Clark

St Kilda: Long (replaced Marshall in the third quarter)
Richmond: Holmes (unused)