St Kilda’s prized off-season recruits have helped fire their AFL club to a 39-point win over the lacklustre Western Bulldogs.
Paddy Ryder, Zak Jones and Dan Butler were instrumental in the Saints’ 14.4 (88) to 7.7 (49) victory at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night.
The result was the Bulldogs’ third consecutive defeat by more than a six-goal margin and left them as one of four teams at the bottom of the ladder still searching for their first win of the year.
Brett Ratten’s Saints turned around their fortunes from round one, when they coughed a 29-point half-time lead in a narrow loss to North Melbourne.
This time they led by 23 points at the main break and capitalised on a strong second quarter by continuing to outrun and outwork their opponents in the second half.
Former Sydney midfielder Jones (29 disposals) was a strong contributor on-ball alongside Jack Billings (24), Jade Gresham (25) and Dan Hannebery (20).
Billings had been inaccurate in front of goal in recent seasons but kicked 3.0 to take this year’s tally to five straight goals.
Max King (two goals) provided a marking target forward of centre and captain Jarryn Geary played an important defensive role on Bulldogs playmaker Jason Johannisen (14 disposals).
Butler (two goals) was a continuous threat with his speed in attack.
Defender Dougal Howard will be scrutinised for a heavy hit on Tim English in the opening stages of the third quarter but kept dangerous Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton goalless until the final term.
The Dogs had few clear winners, though captain Marcus Bontempelli (24 disposals) and Bailey Smith (28) worked tirelessly.
Key forward Josh Bruce went goalless in his first outing against his old side, while Saints talls Ryder and Rowan Marshall outpointed English in the ruck.
Young Bulldog Laitham Vandermeer was busy early on his AFL debut and kicked a goal.
But the 2018 draftee had a moment he would rather forget when he walked through Nick Hind’s protected zone, which led to a 50m penalty and a gift of a goal.
The Bulldogs next host bitter rivals GWS at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, while the Saints meet Collingwood at the MCG the following day.