The Butler did it as Saints beat Eagles

·3-min read

Dan Butler kicked a career-high five goals to lift St Kilda to a crucial 28-point AFL 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 a 14.6 (90) to 10.2 (62) win in front of 35,665 fans.

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.

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten demanded a response from his group after last week's limp display against the Western Bulldogs, with Butler among those in the firing line.

"He was spoken to about lifting his output and how he goes about it," Ratten aid.

"It was pleasing when players respond, they find a way to create something out of nothing and then their confidence lifts."

West Coast defender Tom Barrass performed an excellent job on star St Kilda forward Max King.

Barrass tallied a team-high 26 disposals to go with eight marks, while King was restricted to 2.1 from 12 possessions.

"He might not be in contention for it, but he's an All-Australian standard at the moment," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said of Barrass.

"I feel like Tom's almost been our best player every week for the last six weeks. He's really stood up with his leadership, he's bought into everything that we're doing, so I'm really proud of his season so far."

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 key stats in the first half, winning inside 50s (32-17), clearances (22-15), and contested possessions (76-55).

Damningly, 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.

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