St Kilda's much-hyped AFLW debut was upstaged by the Western Bulldogs as football returned to RSEA Park in stunning style on Sunday.

Gates were closed with capacity at 8000 in the second term as fans enjoyed a carnival-like atmosphere in the first top-flight match at Moorabbin since 1992. 

The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Molly McDonald's first goal late in the opening term. The speedster took a mark just inside 50m before playing on and converting on the run, sending the Saints fans wild.

But the Dogs shot out of the blocks with five first-half goals before the clamps were applied, running out 6.3 (39) to 2.2 (14) winners. 

The Saints increased their physicality in the second half, but it was far too late. 

Teenager and No. 5 draft pick Georgia Patrikios was a clear standout for the Saints with five tackles and a game-high 18 disposals. 

Olivia Vesely (14 disposals), Cat Phillips (13) and Hannah Priest (13) found themselves with plenty of footy by the final siren, while midfielders Rosie Dillon and Nat Exon brought plenty of pressure with a combined 12 tackles.

Nadia von Bertouch showed plenty of courage, bouncing up after receiving a series of heavy knocks throughout the game.

The Saints travel to Richmond Oval in Adelaide to face the Crows on Sunday at 4.40pm ACDT as both sides look to kick-start their season.

ST KILDA                         1.0     1.1     1.1     2.1     (13)
WESTERN BULLDOGS     4.1     5.1     5.2     6.3     (39)

St Kilda:
 McDonald, Sedunary
Western Bulldogs: Toogood 2, Marshall, McCarthy, Hunt, Lamb

St Kilda:
 Patrikios, McDonald, Vesely, Priest
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Lamb, Toogood, Huntington, Scott, Rennie

St Kilda:
Western Bulldogs: Moody (ankle), Huntington (concussion)

St Kilda:
Western Bulldogs: Nil

Reports: Nil

Crowd: 8000 at RSEA Park