With big bags from forwards, a wealth of senior defenders pushing for a game, the return of sidelined Saints and young guns eyeing off a place in the line-up, there's a lot to break down following St Kilda's practice match against Essendon.

Development Manager Ben McGlynn runs through the Saints' performance and how each player is tracking as the club reaches the pointy end of the season. 

Ryan Abbott 

"Ryan was good in the ruck. He went up against his good mate Alabakis, who played for Essendon this week. ‘Rabbott’ won a lot of hit-outs around the centre bounce, got involved around the ground and he’s responded well after coming back in from playing AFL."

Strong hands from Ryan Abbott. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Sam Alabakis 

"Sal was the oppo ruck against Ryan Abbott. It’s a developing year for him, he’s getting a fair bit of ruck time and played a bit of forward as well. Ryan's been really good for him in terms of his development at training and post-training, but Sal’s just got to keep working on his ruck and forward craft. He’s a guy that keeps applying himself the right way, he’s got a great attitude and the more of those people that we have around the better."

Big Sal in the sash. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Logan Austin 

"Logan played up forward and the boys were calling him ‘Tomahawk’ after he kicked four goals. He enjoyed going forward and he had a few easy deliveries for him. It’s good that he can add that into his game, but the move was more so for balance of the team – we’ve got a lot of defenders so it was just a good opportunity to play up there."

Logan 'Tomahawk' Austin. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Jack Bell

"Surprisingly those conditions suited him well. His ground level stuff is pretty good for a big guy and he needs to put on size to take some more contested marks, but he brings the ball to ground, is clean below his knees, uses the ball well and this week kicked a goal or two. It’s a developing year for him and he’s going well."

Jack Bell has taken positive strides in his development as a ruckman and forward. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Ryan Byrnes 

"Byrnesy was very clean in the wet, his hands were elite inside and he used the ball well by foot. His spread and his running patterns are really starting to improve as a midfielder, so he’s working on those and getting forward and getting back defensively to help out. I think along with Dunstan and Bytel, his hands and how clean he was in the wet were pleasing to see.

At the moment there’s definitely an opportunity for him so he’s just got to keep knocking on the door.

- Ben McGlynn

"I think the way you attack the ball it doesn’t really matter what size you are, but he needs to probably put on a little bit more size and strength to play against AFL mids, but there’s also an opportunity for him to play more of a half-forward role if needed. 

"He’s definitely moving in the right direction and improving this week, and he’s a great kid that wants to learn as much as he can, so he’ll go a long way if he keeps that up."

Ryan Byrnes is looking to add to his games tally after making his debut in Round 7 against Adelaide. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Jack Bytel 

"Jack was really good. He played midfield, was clean, tough inside and used his hands really well and I think those conditions suited him. He had a good game, and he and Byrnesy were two that were pretty promising in the way they played in those conditions as young midfielders."

Jack Bytel wins the clearance. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Jake Carlisle

"Jake was pretty solid and his focus on his attitude was great. He hasn't played AFL in a few weeks and it was good for him to have a run around and for a few of the younger boys to learn from him. We know he’s a strong player and we know what he can bring. It was good that he could get through a game and his attitude was definitely great for someone that’s probably not used to being in that situation in the reserves, but he’s taken it well and hopefully we can see him soon."

Jake Carlisle's last senior game was in Round 13 against Brisbane. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Oscar Clavarino 

"For team balance Clav ended up playing for Essendon down back. He was playing on Austin and Marshy at times and he competed well. He’s developed really well over the last few months and he's starting to go for his marks and taking those catches. His bodywork in defence has been something he’s been working on, but he’s really improving and going well."

Oscar Clavarino played for the Bombers to even up the numbers. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Leo Connolly 

"Leo played wing/forward. There were a couple passages of play where he struck through the footy and took the Bombers on with his legs. He’s got a really good step and his evasiveness is pretty good, so there were a couple of occasions where he did that and took the game on. Obviously there was a fair bit of space with a 14v14, but it was promising to see those little bits of his strengths coming out and his ball use is definitely something that we’re looking forward to."

Leo Connolly played along the wings and across half-back. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Luke Dunstan

"It was Luke's second game – he played well last week when he joined in on a Geelong and Essendon game, so it was good that he got another hit-out. He was clean in the wet, stood out around the stoppages, competed well and gave second and third efforts with tackles. He, Bytel and Byrnes worked well in the midfield. His ball use going inside-50 is probably something that he needs to work on, but he’s definitely got a lot of the footy and his run and his competitiveness was a standout."

Luke Dunstan has been sidelined since June after tearing his pectoral muscle in a scratch match against Richmond. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Darragh Joyce 

"Darragh played forward in the first half with us and then went across to Essendon and played for them after they took a man out. He’s been swung between back and forward the last few weeks, and he’s just got to be patient with where he’s at and try and keep developing both roles, because there is opportunity there at both ends when he’s ready. There’s still a bit for him to learn as a forward, but he’s going well." 

Darragh Joyce switched sides after half-time as the match became a 13v13 hit-out. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Doulton Langlands

"Doults played for the Bombers and went up against Luke, Byrnesy and Bytel in the midfield. It’s a year where he’s going to keep developing, but he did well and was clean around the footy. We need to see more of him using his legs out of stoppages once he gets the ball. He’s got a lot of speed so we need him to just show that a bit more because it has the potential to be really damaging down the track."

Don Doulton. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Jonathon Marsh 

"Five straight in the wet for Marshy, so a pretty good effort. He utilised his strengths once it hit the deck he used his size to bust out of tackles and take them on. He brought his teammates into the game really well and his energy, his voice and how much he brings to the group to amp up the energy was really impressive. He definitely makes it easier and enjoyable down there when he’s up and about.

He’s definitely got the attributes to be a power forward for us and create goals or kick them himself. It was a good confidence boost for him and marking it in the wet as well is a good sign that the work he’s putting in is paying off.

- Ben McGlynn

"He needs to be more consistent with his contest and bring more of his strengths on more of a consistent basis at AFL level. I think at AFL we see it once or twice a game, whereas in the practice matches we’re having it happen just about every time the ball goes near him."

Five snags for Jonathon Marsh. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Daniel McKenzie

"D-Mac played wing and half-back and swapped with Webster and Savage. It was good conditions for him and they were the type he plays well in. He used the ball better this week by foot and hand, and we know there’s a good opportunity for him to get a game, so hopefully he’s close to selection.

"For guys like D-Mac who are just on the fringe it’s challenging for them, but his attitude has been great and that’s the biggest thing we’ve been trying to drive down there: making sure they’re ready. As challenging as it is running around in a 14v14 in the wet, I thought he applied himself well."

Daniel McKenzie is hunting for a senior berth to take him to 50 games. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Matty Parker

"Parks played for Essendon. He competed well, he’s using the ball better by foot and he’s just got to keep applying pressure and bringing his strengths which is putting pressure on in the front half and being clean over the footy."

Matty Parker dishes a handball off after winning the clearance. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Dylan Roberton 

"Similar to Jake and Sav down back, the ball didn’t get there much and he did what he had to do. Robbo’s been in the emergencies the last few weeks and he’s close to selection, so he’s just got to keep training well and making sure he’s ready to go when he’s called." 

Dylan Roberton is on the verge of a call-up. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Shane Savage 

"Sav was quite good against the Bombers. Our team was probably a bit stronger, so the ball wasn’t down the back end a lot. His ball-use was good and he defended pretty well, so he had a good game."

Shane Savage has played one senior game this season against Sydney. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Jimmy Webster

"Jimmy looked good back in the side. A few guys voted for him in terms of the Crest behaviours and how he played. His ball use stood out, his commitment to the contest was never questioned and the conditions probably made it a lot more of a contest game when the ball went in their back half. He put his body on the line just like we know that he does, and it was a positive that he got through unscathed and hopefully there's another game for him this week and he can press for selection."

Jimmy Webster's return from injury was a welcome sight for sore eyes. Photo: Corey Scicluna.
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Saints look sharp in scratch match

The Saints took on Essendon in a wet weather scratch match toward the end of last week and the conditions didn't seem to faze some of the emerging talent.

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