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Saints soar past Dogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Nick Coffield of the Saints (L) and Doulton Langlands of the Saints celebrates the win during the round 18 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on July 21, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images via AFL Photos)
St Kilda recorded an impressive 27 point victory over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

Every club might start appointing a caretaker coach at this rate.

First, it was Rhyce Shaw. Then, it was David Teague. Now, Brett Ratten has helped St Kilda achieve the ideal start to life after Alan Richardson with an impressive 27-point victory over a sorry Western Bulldogs side at Marvel Stadium on Sunday evening.

SAINTS TORCH DOGS Full match coverage and stats

In a way, you couldn't help but feel for the Dogs.

The clash was a danger game for multiple reasons. The first being that Luke Beveridge's side has almost earned more trust as the underdogs this season, rather than when they're the overwhelming favourites. The other was St Kilda's obvious bounce-back threat.

Having parted ways with Richardson on Tuesday, the Saints played like a team with renewed confidence and freedom on their way to a satisfying 17.14 (116) to 14.5 (89) victory.

It was just like the enthusiasm North Melbourne and Carlton have displayed recently.

St Kilda did the majority of its damage in the first half, with forward duo Jack Lonie (20 disposals, eight marks, four goals) and Tim Membrey (14 disposals, four marks, four goals) causing the Western Bulldogs' backline headaches throughout an uncomfortable evening.

 

But the Saints had just as many contributors in the midfield, with exciting youngsters Jack Billings (27 disposals, eight marks, two goals) and Hunter Clark (26 disposals, six marks, two goals) proving influential with their gut running and class around the contest.

For the Western Bulldogs, the defeat was a bitter blow for its finals chances.

Bailey Dale (14 disposals, five goals) had attempted to drag his team back into the contest with a late flourish, but the side's slow and lethargic start made it a thankless task.

Beveridge's team is now essentially two games outside the September picture – given its poor percentage – with a tough run to end the season.

If the Western Bulldogs didn't gauge the danger a wounded St Kilda posed from the outset of Sunday evening's contest, six straight Saints goals quickly made them take notice.

Lonie was the chief destroyer. A fantastic banana from the boundary typified his opening term, which featured 10 disposals and three goals to help St Kilda to a 35-point head start.

Having piled on 41 straight points from 11 consecutive scoring shots to end an electric opening quarter, the Saints were virtually home and hosed by the first change.

The Dogs desperately needed a response and controlled large portions of the second quarter. But for every goal they kicked, the Saints were able to grab an instant reply.

The ease in which St Kilda scored on the counter would have left Beveridge tearing his hair out, with the Saints constantly able to absorb pressure before going end-to-end.

Guarding against complacency became just as big a factor for St Kilda after half-time as it was for the Western Bulldogs to start the match, as a 43-point deficit was quickly eaten into.

The Dogs kicked six of eight goals in a dominant third quarter, cutting the margin to 20 points at one stage to ensure a tense last term for a section of restless St Kilda supporters.

But the significant half-time lead St Kilda had built proved far too overwhelming, as the Saints held their nerve to hand Ratten a happy return to senior coaching.

Brett Ratten celebrates his first win as St Kilda coach. Picture: AFL Photos

MEDICAL ROOM
St Kilda: Rowan Marshall was flattened in a brave marking contest by Tim English early in the final quarter. He looked heavily winded and came straight to the bench, but did eventually come back onto the ground and played out the game.

Western Bulldogs: Matt Suckling came from the field in the early minutes of the game and had his hip worked on extensively by the Dogs' trainers. He played out the contest, but continued to receive treatment throughout the match. Josh Schache looked shaken after a heavy bump in the third term. He went straight to the rooms and failed to finish the game.

NEXT UP
St Kilda returns to Marvel Stadium to host Melbourne next Saturday night, while the Western Bulldogs are also back at Docklands to face Fremantle on Sunday.

ST KILDA                             6.5     11.6    13.9     17.14 (116)
WESTERN BULLDOGS      1.0       4.5    10.5       14.5 (89)

GOALS
St Kilda: Lonie 4, Membrey 4, Clark 2, Billings 2, Parker, Newnes, Gresham, Langlands, Bruce
Western Bulldogs: 
Dale 5, Dickson 4, Lloyd 2, Schache, English, R.Smith 

BEST
St Kilda: Billings, Clark, Marshall, Dunstan, Lonie, Paton, Gresham
Western Bulldogs:
 Dunkley, Macrae, Dale, English, Wood, Dickson 

INJURIES
St Kilda: Nil
Western Bulldogs: 
Schache (concussion)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Ryan, Heffernan, Mollison

Official crowd: 21,705 at Marvel Stadium