Bulldogs humble insipid St Kilda in AFL

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St Kilda's AFL finals hopes are in tatters with the Western Bulldogs and Marcus Bontempelli recapturing form to embarrass the insipid Saints by 28 points.

The Bulldogs were never headed at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, slamming through the first seven goals to lead by 36 points at halftime.

St Kilda chipped away at a 50-point three-quarter time deficit late but the damage had already been done as the Bulldogs secured a 13.6 (84) to 7.14 (56) victory.

The Bulldogs (9-8) snapped a two-game losing run to reignite their own top-eight hopes and leapfrog St Kilda on percentage into ninth on the ladder.

In a major boost for last year's beaten grand finalists, Bontempelli reclaimed his status as one of the AFL's elite players after struggling with injury for much of the season.

The Bulldogs captain and fellow premiership star Tom Liberatore ran riot to set the game up in the midfield as they dominated St Kilda in clearances 21-10 in during first half.

Bontempelli, Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Bailey Smith, returning from his headbutting suspension and drugs ban, collected 71 possessions between them by the main break.

After the Saints got back to within 22 points, Bontempelli snuffed out the minuscule chance of a historic comeback by nailing his second goal to finish with a damaging 34 possessions.

"Marcus has been an extraordinary contributor for the football club over a long period of time," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"Last year was probably his most outstanding, but we, as a group probably cost him a Brownlow medal because we stopped playing our better football in the last part of the year.

"His work across all phases was quite brilliant, but his desire and his will and competitiveness is always there."

Key forward Josh Bruce, who was playing his first AFL game in almost a year, was quiet but will take time to find form coming back from an ACL injury.

No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had one of the best games of his fledgling career, booting three goals in the absence of star forward Aaron Naughton (health and safety protocols).

After sitting inside the top-four when they were 8-3, St Kilda have since lost five of their last six games with a difficult draw to end the season.

Adding to their pain was veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder suffering an Achilles injury in the third quarter and was subbed out for Ben Long.

The Saints added some respectability to the score during an improved effort in the final quarter but it will not be enough to escape scrutiny for one of the most listless performances by any AFL team this season.

"Friday night, we're trying to make finals and we deliver that performance; it's below par," St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said.

"Our pressure's been up and down in games, but when it's been poor opposition have really punished us and it happened again."

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