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Gutsy Saints outlast Dogs

BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Ben Long of the Saints celebrates after kicking a goal with Josh Bruce of the Saints and Jack Lonie of the Saints during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the St Kilda Saints at Mars Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Ben Long celebrates with Jack Lonie and Josh Bruce after kicking the sealer.

St Kilda has capped a promising pre-season campaign, edging past the Western Bulldogs by 14 points at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday.

However, the win was soured by another concussion scare for Paddy McCartin, sitting out the second half as his forward teammates did the damage in the 14.9 (93) to 12.7 (79) win.

The result leaves the Dogs winless from their two JLT Community Series hitouts, with question marks hanging over their forward make-up and ruck division leading into round one.

Aaron Naughton, switching into attack after impressing in defence last week, provided a presence with three majors, while the returning Josh Schache booted two goals.

At the other end Tim Membrey kicked three goals, supported by two each for McCartin, Josh Bruce and Jack Sinclair.

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Ben Long, who sat out St Kilda's win over North Melbourne last week, kicked the sealer late in the contest and was lively throughout with two goal assists.

Dylan Roberton proved why the Saints were so desperate to see him return with a commanding role in a young defence alongside forward-turned-defender Josh Battle.

Veteran defender Nathan Brown, suspended from round one selection, was pulled from the named team with an eye to the season opener as Darragh Joyce played a key back role.

The Saints' early ball movement was methodical – kicking the first three goals of the game.

Mature-age recruit Matthew Parker took the mark of the pre-season inside two minutes, standing on four players' heads deep in the forward pocket.

 

The Dogs started to work into the contest in the second term as travel partners Marcus Bontempelli (24 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (29) asserted their influence.

Jackson Macrae picked up 11 of his 29 disposals in a dominant third term as the Dogs started to control proceedings.

Sam Lloyd kicked two of his three goals in the space of 90 seconds early in the term, with a Bruce major on the stroke of three-quarter time placing scores level at the final break.

As the game opened up more in the final term, the Saints' speedsters made the most of opportunities, goals to runners Long and Sinclair sealing victory.

Entering with 25 players each, both teams opted to hold players back in the first half to resemble a proper hitout.

Saints Ed Phillips and Callum Wilkie, who played a half in the VFL curtain raiser, sat out the first three quarters before they were thrown into the fray late.

Dogs' No.7 draft pick Bailey Smith sat out the first quarter, Tim English replaced Jackson Trengove in the ruck after half-time, while Lachlan Young entered after the main interval.

The Saints were also buoyed by the sight of Jack Steven in Ballarat, the four-time club best and fairest watching alongside Alan Richardson and the Saints' coaches.  

WESTERN BULLDOGS             2.2       5.4       10.6     12.7 (79)

ST KILDA                                 4.3       7.5       10.6     14.9 (93)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Lloyd 3, Naughton 3, Schache 2, Liberatore, Hunter, Bontempelli, Wallis

St Kilda: Membrey 3, McCartin 2, Bruce 2, Sinclair 2, Gresham, Clark, Newnes, Kent, Long

BEST 

Western Bulldogs: Hunter, Macrae, Dunkley, Naughton, Wallis, Lloyd

St Kilda: Roberton, Billings, Steele, Newnes, Battle, Marshall 

INJURIES

Western Bulldogs: Nil

St Kilda: McCartin (head knock) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: McInerney, Stevic, Rosebury

Official crowd: 4384 at Mars Stadium