How about that.

St Kilda is through to its first semi final in a decade, surviving through an inspiring finals charge from the Western Bulldogs to hold onto an all-important three-point win.

The Saints held a comfortable 26-point lead at three-quarter time, before the Dogs kicked into gear with four of the last five to jeopardise the red, white and black's semi final plans with Richmond.

SAINTS MATCH CENTRE: All match stats, news and videos from our first elimination final

But red, white and black held on when it mattered, and despite the elevated heart rates right around the country, fell on the right side of the ledger to confirm the 10.7 (67) to 9.10 (64) result.

Led by an inspirational Jarryn Geary (two goals, four contested marks) – the only player remaining from the Saints' last finals campaign – and September-credentialed recruits Dan Hannebery (20 dispsoals), Dougal Howard (20 disposals, six marks) and Paddy Ryder (20 hit-outs, two goals), the exciting force held up under the pressure and made their experience count all across the board. 

The skipper played the opening half as a defensive forward on Caleb Daniel, quelling the All-Australian's influence before jagging two crucial goals – including one in the final term – to make his presence felt.

01:37 Mins
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EF | Geary voted Man of the Match

Jarryn Geary is the Carlton Draught Man of the Match after his heroics against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday twilight

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Meanwhile, the young Saints stood tall in their first finals experience.

Max King held onto anything that came his way with five marks (four contested) and two goals in the opening half, Nick Coffield was massive in the final term with four intercept marks in defence while Hunter Clark (19 disposals) oozed composure through heavy traffic and all sorts of pressure.

The Saints, aided heavily by Ryder, controlled the airwaves with a season-high 21 contested marks, and weren't afraid to run the gauntlet thanks to their sharpness and speed on the counter-attack.

The Bulldogs showed danger in patches throughout the first three quarters, and looked lively when Josh Bruce snapped the first of the game, but couldn't generate their customary link-up chains to regularly challenge their opponents.

Despite winning the inside-50 count 51-35 by the final siren, the unwavering Saints' defence spearheaded by Howard and Jake Carlisle held firm as the pressure continued to escalate.

Tackle numbers took a hit as free-flowing football became the precedent, with the gut running of Bradley Hill helping separate the Saints from the Bulldogs' slender lead.

A goal to Ryder eventuated off Hill's hard work just before the main change, before it all came together for the Saints in the third with Geary, Ryder, Dan Butler and Tim Membrey pushing the margin out to 26 points.

But the Dogs still had bite, and bite they absolutely did.

Unleashed and unfazed by the mountain in front of them, Luke Beveridge's men piled on the pressure with four of the last five goals; a calm Daniel bringing the margin to three points with two minutes left on the clock.

Safe hands once again proved to be St Kilda's saving grace, with important clunks to Membrey, Rowan Marshall and Ben Paton confirming its semi final against the Tigers.

03:52 Mins
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EF | Watch the last two minutes

Relive the thrilling final moments between the Bulldogs and the Saints

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In a potential blow for the Saints, the 32-year-old Ryder hobbled off the ground in the final minutes with yet-to-be-determined injury, while Ben Long could have his bump on Jack Macrae looked at during the week. For the Dogs, Zaine Cordy was put on ice before half-time with an ankle injury.

St Kilda's fixture against Richmond will be confirmed shortly.

ST KILDA  2.2   5.4  9.6  10.7 (67)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 
3.1  4.3  5.6  9.10 (64)

GOALS
St Kilda: King 2, Ryder 2, Geary 2, Membrey, Lonie, Butler
Western Bulldogs:
Bruce, Johannisen, Crozier, Wallis, Naughton, Hunter, Liberatore, Daniel

BEST
St Kilda:
Ryder, Hannebery, Howard, Geary, Coffield, King, Membrey, Carlisle, Hill, Clark
Western Bulldogs:
 Smith, Daniel, Bontempelli, Hunter, Williams

INJURIES
St Kilda:
Ryder (hamstring)
Western Bulldogs:
Cordy (ankle)