St Kilda can now shed its ‘pretenders’ moniker.
Back-to-back wins at Adelaide Oval against the top-of-the-table Port Adelaide – coming off the back of a five-day turnaround – have thrust the red, white and black into third position on the ladder in stunning style.
It was a sizzling performance from start-to-finish for Brett Ratten’s men, who stormed home with five unanswered goals in the final term to signal an emphatic 29-point victory.
Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall were massive in the ruck to register a combined 40 hit-outs, nine clearances and four goals, while milestone man Tim Membrey put through two round ball-inspired majors of his own.
With the game in the balance in the final term, Membrey’s miraculous mid-air kick on the goal line was given the green light upon review to confirm the unthinkable 6.8 (44) to 12.1 (73) result.
The Saints led by a single point at the final change, before blazing away in the last to record the club’s second-ever win at Adelaide Oval; the first coming from last week’s triumph over the Crows.
Dougal Howard was superb down back to keep Charlie Dixon to just one goal, while Hunter Clark (24 disposals, five rebounds), Jack Steele (21 disposals, six tackles) and Zak Jones (20 disposals, eight clearances) were equally influential in the remarkable final outcome.
Darcy Byrne-Jones led the Power in most metrics, but his strong rebounding efforts couldn't thwart the Saints' final quarter charge.
The white-hot contest delivered right from the opening bounce, with both sides piecing together fast, exciting and pressure-driven passages to set the tone early.
Marshall drew first blood with a classy snap around the body, while newcomer Jack Sinclair was incredibly lively between midfield and half-forward.
Both sides were dealt with what appeared to be match-ending injures to Hamish Hartlett and Dean Kent in the opening quarter, but both returned to the field to play influential roles under the Saturday night lights.
St Kilda's ravenous hunter around the stoppages and ability to match the Power's intensity never waned, even when the home side threatened to wrestle their way on top in the third term.
Port Adelaide burst out of the blocks after the major break, recording the first nine inside-50s of the quarter to put the Saints' young defence under the pump.
The roars of the 20,000-strong Port Adelaide faithful continued to spur on the Power, before Kent came up clutch to break the tense onslaught and lay the groundwork for the visitors' thrilling run home.
Jade Gresham (23 disposals) seized the momentum to kickstart the final quarter burst with a brilliant dribbler from the pocket, before Max King, Dan Butler and Tim Membrey's magical major added to the superb finish.
Ryder's centre ruckwork over Peter Ladhams was exemplary all throughout the evening, with the former Port star booting two crucial goals – including one in the last term – to silence the animated crowd and secure a stellar triumph for the red, white and black.
St Kilda will begin its unprecedented run of four matches in 16 days next Saturday against Sydney at the Gabba, while Port Adelaide has five days to get ready for its clash with Melbourne at the same venue.
PORT ADELAIDE 2.1 4.4 6.6 6.8 (44)
ST KILDA 1.1 5.1 7.1. 12.1 (73)
Port Adelaide: Powell-Pepper, Gray, Georgiades, Marshall, Dixon, Duursma
St Kilda: Marshall 2, Butler 2, Ryder 2, Membrey 2, Hind, Kent, Gresham, King
Port Adelaide: Byrne-Jones, Wines, Ebert, Houston, Ladhams
St Kilda: Ryder, Marshall, Clark, Steele, Membrey, Howard, Jones, Sinclair
Port Adelaide: McKenzie replaced in the selected side by Westhoff
St Kilda: Ross (calf)