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Talking Points: Round 18

Nick Coffield, Brett Ratten and Doulton Langlands celebrate their first win in the red, white and black. - St Kilda Saints,Doulton Langlands,Jack Lonie,Hunter Clark,Brett Ratten
Nick Coffield, Brett Ratten and Doulton Langlands celebrate their first win in the red, white and black.

1. A good way to end a long week

In the wake of Alan Richardson’s departure, it was always going to be a long week at St Kilda.

But with Brett Ratten taking the reins, the Saints ended it on a positive note, rallying together to secure their first win since Round 13 against Gold Coast.

Bold through the centre, dangerous around the contest and penetrating on the scoreboard, St Kilda took it right up to the in-form Dogs to secure the four points, with several players standing out in the 27-point victory.

MATCH REPORT: Saints soar past Dogs

Jack Billings (27 disposals) and Rowan Marshall (21 disposals, 32 hit-outs) continued their stellar form, Hunter Clark’s (26 disposals, two goals) purple patch extended another week, Jake Carlisle (18 disposals, eight marks) was solid in defence and Tim Membrey and Jack Lonie jagged four goals apiece.

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*Russell Crowe voice* Are you not entertained?

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But while it’s easy to single out the leaders on the stats sheet, it was the full team-driven approach that was the biggest positive of the afternoon.

All 22 Saints were bold and daring in their approach, with speed, fluid movement and aggressive plays through the middle punctuating the emphatic victory.

'SPIRITS ARE HIGH'  Brett Ratten's post-match presser

To cap it all off, the Barker/Whitten Challenge Plate returned to St Kilda’s hands for the first time since 2016.

A new chapter has begun, and Sunday’s performance was the perfect way to kick it all off.

2. Livewire Lonie

A hot start was in order for the Saints, but right from the get-go, Jack Lonie was on fire.

Four majors for the afternoon – three of which were kicked in the first quarter – only highlighted his importance to the line-up, with his manic pressure at ground level sorely missed over the past few months.

The small forward may have been red-hot across the afternoon, but was cool as a cucumber when he slotted his first with a check-side kick from the boundary line.

Two set shots from close-range took his tally to three, before he almost slotted a fourth moments later with a hurried left-foot snap shying away late.

READ: Lonie tops coaches votes

Lonie didn’t slot his fourth until the final quarter, but was busy in the meantime with 20 disposals, eight marks and a career-high 11 score involvements.

Tim Membrey was just as potent on the scoreboard, exerting a steady influence with a goal in each quarter to complement his four marks and 14 disposals.

3. Doulton’s debut

When Doulton Langlands was told during Thursday’s training session that he had to kick a goal to make it into the senior side, the youngster was given a reprieve after his first shot cannoned into the woodwork.

Under the roof against the Bulldogs however, there wouldn’t be second chance.

WATCH: Langlands earns his debut

So when Jack Sinclair flicked a handball out in the pocket, Langlands seized the opportunity with both hands.

His snap between Bulldogs Zaine Cordy and Jason Johannisen was the Saints’ 10th goal of the afternoon and was suitably greeted with an almighty roar from the St Kilda faithful.

 

His teammates were just as ecstatic, flocking to Langlands in scenes reminiscent of Thursday’s training session.

The 19-year-old ended his maiden outing with 12 disposals at 92% efficiency, three tackles and two inside-50s to go alongside his memorable goal.

Langlands becomes the fourth St Kilda debutant this season to kick a major in their first game, with Matty Parker, Robbie Young and Nicholas Hind all hitting the scoreboard in their first appearances.

4. Hunter Clark = Class

There’s never been any doubt as to his talent, but Hunter Clark’s past month has offered a glimpse into his future as club champion.

Sunday was no exception.

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As voted by you, @__hunterclark is your Sainter of the Round!

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A career-high 26-disposal haul, coupled with 533m gained, four inside-50s, three clearances and two goals told the tale, with Clark awarded four coaches votes for his performance.

In his past month, the Mount Martha product has averaged 23 touches, four tackles and three rebounds per game; his combination with Nick Coffield across half-back on track to becoming a damaging asset for the red, white and black.

SAINTER OF THE ROUND  Clark's class earns him SOTR 

Clark inherited a substantial mantle through Leigh Montagna’s No. 11, but after just 24 games, he’s certainly showcasing the versatility and composure which made ‘Joey’ such a beloved Saint.

And there’s no doubt, much like his predecessor, he’s hoping to deal damage through the midfield in the ensuing weeks.

 

5. Ton up

Australian cricket star Ellyse Perry was racking up centuries with ease earlier in the week.

And while it may have taken longer than anticipated for the Saints, they too were able to raise the bat after passing the 100-point milestone on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Bruce's goal in the final term brought up the 100 points for the Saints.

Brett Ratten’s troops had 72 points to their name by half-time, with it being the club’s highest tally at the main break since Round 16, 2017 against Richmond (14.8).

The Saints were the second-last side in the competition to notch up the 100 points, but with five games left to go, there’s plenty of chances to do it again.