An undermanned St Kilda has snatched a gutsy eight-point win over Greater Western Sydney in slippery conditions at Giants Stadium.

The Saints, whose list of injured absentees included Zak Jones, Dan Hannebery, Max King, James Frawley, Rowan Marshall and Jarryn Geary, led for the majority of the third term.

The Giants looked the likely winners when Harry Himmelberg had a shot to put his side 16 points up midway through the final term, but hit the post from close-range.

St Kilda promptly piled on three successive goals, including a stunning snap by Jack. Lonie, to wrestle back the lead but the 13.8 (86) to 11.12 (78) win wasn't sealed until Dan Butler produced a goal from a holding-the-ball free kick in the final minute. 

Tim Membrey was outstanding for the Saints with three goals, 21 disposals and seven marks in conditions that didn't suit tall forwards, while Jack Billings (30 touches, one goal) and Hunter Clark (24 disposals in an encouraging midfield display) were also solid.

Saints fans relished the return of Jade Gresham, who showed a classy display with 28 disposals and five clearances. 

It was a battle of the captains with Leon Cameron making a surprising call to send Stephen Coniglio to Jack Steele in a tagging role from the opening bounce. Steele had 15 disposals and five clearances in a quarter-and-a-half, but just four disposals for the rest of the game. Coniglio, meanwhile, finished with 24 disposals.

Round 1 v GWS

Round 1 v GWS

The Saints rebounded after a scrappy first term, with Jack Lonie levelling the scores early after Isaac Cumming gave away a 50-metre penalty.

New recruit Jack Higgins (two goals, 12 disposals) kicked a controversial first goal in his new colours, with GWS player Phil Davis claiming the ball hit the top of the post. 

SAINTS MATCH CENTRE: View all news, stats and videos from Round 1

Himmelberg and Coniglio combined to give GWS the lead early in the third term, before Higgins took it back for the Saints and an end-to-end goal finished off by Seb Ross extended the margin.

Membrey further extended the lead to a game-high 16 points before Callan Ward gave the Giants a much-needed response followed by another free kick which ended with a goal from Toby Greene, further tightening the margin.

Momentum ebbed and flowed during a hectic final quarter of the wet-weather contest, before Butler's desperate lunge sealed the result in St Kilda's favour.

01:02 Mins
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Team song: St Kilda

Watch the Saints celebrate their round one win

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New Saints settle well

St Kilda entered the match with four club debutants, and Tom Highmore was the pick of them in his first AFL game.

The 23-year-old was overlooked by the Giants after being part of their Academy, but he showed what they missed out on in an assured performance in defence that included 19 tidy possessions.

Paul Hunter was solid in the ruck, Jack Higgins kicked two goals in a busy display, and Shaun McKernan showed his versatility to support Hunter and help bring the ball to ground in the forward line.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  2.3  4.5  8.9  11.12 (78)
ST KILDA  1.2  5.6  9.6  13.8 (86)

GOALS
GWS: Himmelberg 3, Greene, Green, Hill, Coniglio, Ward, Taranto, Hopper, Keeffe
St Kilda: Membrey 3, Higgins 2, Lonie 2, Ross 2, Billings, Hill, Battle, Butler

BEST
GWS: Taranto, Perryman, Coniglio, Flynn
St Kilda: Membrey, Billings, Clark, Gresham

INJURIES
GWS: Nil
St Kilda: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
GWS: O'Neill (unused)
St Kilda: Wood (unused)

Crowd: TBC at Giants Stadium