Dan Butler kicked a career-high five goals to lift St Kilda to a crucial 28-point win over West Coast at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
The Eagles trailed by just three points when Jack Darling slotted two goals in three minutes midway through the third quarter. But St Kilda kicked the next four goals to seal victory in front of 35,665 fans.
Dan Butler starred for the Saints in their win over West Coast.Credit:AFL Photos
The result means St Kilda (10-8) are just percentage adrift of the eighth-placed Western Bulldogs with four rounds remaining,
Former Tiger Butler finished with 5.0 from 14 disposals in the finest display of his 101-game career, bettering his four-goal haul against Gold Coast in 2020.
Saints captain Jack Steele racked up 40 disposals and 11 clearances in a dominant midfield effort.
West Coast defender Tom Barrass did an excellent job on star St Kilda forward Max King.
St Kilda’s Max King competes for a mark with West Coast’s Tom Barrass.Credit:AFL Photos
Barrass tallied a team-high 26 disposals to go with eight marks, while King was restricted to 2.1 from 12 possessions.
West Coast second-gamer Jai Culley showed his potential with 19 possessions, seven tackles, three clearances and a goal.
St Kilda were dealt a major blow when Jack Billings suffered a game-ending back injury in the opening minutes.
West Coast led by five points midway through the second quarter when defender Josh Rotham, playing as a back-up ruckman, snared his second goal of the match.
But the Saints ended the first half in a flurry, snatching four of the final five goals to take a 16-point lead into the long break.
The Saints were dominant in all the key stats in the first half, winning inside 50s (32-17), clearances (22-15), and contested possessions (76-55).
Star West Coast midfielders Luke Shuey and Tim Kelly had just five possessions between them in the first half.
Kelly, who was in doubt for the match following a cork to his quad last week, struggled to get going against a hard tag from Marcus Windhager.
The tempo rose in the third quarter as the home side threatened to hit the lead courtesy of two quick goals to Darling.
But with their finals hopes on the line, St Kilda managed to settle.
King out-wrestled Barrass to kick the crucial opening goal of the final quarter, and Butler claimed his fourth and fifth goals to kill off the contest.
ST KILDA 2.2 9.5 10.5 14.6 (90)
WEST COAST 3.1 7.1 9.2 10.2 (62)
St Kilda: Butler 5, King 2, Higgins 2, Membrey 2, Crouch, Wood, Long.
West Coast: Darling 2, Kennedy 2, Rotham 2, Ryan, Waterman, Williams, Culley.
St Kilda: Steele, Butler, Crouch, Windhager, Ross, Wood.
West Coast: Barrass, Williams, Redden, Rotham, Culley.
St Kilda: Billings (back), Webster (shoulder) .
UMPIRES Fleer, Dore, Wallace.
CROWD 35,665 at Optus Stadium.
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