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Momentum builds for selfless Saints

Highlights from the Saints v Bulldogs clash in the JLT. The Bulldogs and Saints clash in the JLT

As Dean Kent’s flying left-foot snap sailed through deep in the last quarter, nearly every Saint ran to Jack Billings.

On an unseasonably sunny Ballarat afternoon, Billings’ attack and Kent’s class was enough to see off the Bulldogs in JLT 2.

As the tempo went up a notch in the final quarter, so did the physicality, and it was then that Billings’ moment came.

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After a strong pre-season focus on tackling and pressure, the emerging midfielder put his body on the line to win the ball back for his team.

The immediate reaction of both his swarming teammates and the strong contingent of Saints supporters served as confirmation of his effort.

The 23-year-old’s selflessness punctuated St Kilda’s renewed hardness at the football.

Led by 10 tackles each to midfield bulls Jack Steele and Luke Dunstan, the Saints went about hunting the opposition all afternoon.

Big man Josh Bruce was back to his competitive best, while energetic trio Jack Lonie, Ben Long and mature-ager Matty Parker harassed the Bulldogs’ backline relentlessly.

Jack Newnes’ pre-season took another step, as the athletic wingman picked up 23 disposals at 87% to go with his five clearances and five tackles.

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The backline stood strong, as Shane Savage, Jarryn Geary and full-back Darragh Joyce each pulled in six intercept marks, while returning star half-back Dylan Roberton added five of his own.

Josh Battle looked at home in defence, his skills coming to the fore with 16 touches at 100%, while his positioning was evident in four intercept marks.

The win caps off a promising pre-season for the Saints, who will now take some momentum into their Round 1 clash against Gold Coast on Sunday, 24 March.