Ratten wants Saints bravery against Demons

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St Kilda are taking careful note of how Hawthorn challenged Melbourne, with coach Brett Ratten wanting his team to be brave against the Demons.

The Saints' five-game AFL winning streak ended last weekend when Port Adelaide beat them by a point in Cairns, while the Covid-depleted Demons survived a stern Hawks challenge and extended their winning streak to 14 games.

Melbourne will regain coach Simon Goodwin and five premiership players from the virus for Sunday's MCG clash against the Saints, adding to the challenges for Ratten and his team.

But the Saints coach says there are lessons to be learned from how unfancied Hawthorn pushed Melbourne all the way and only went down by 10 points.

"They were brave, weren't they, Hawthorn, in a lot of aspects of their game - their ball movement, their never-say-die attitude," he said.

"It looked like the game was just going to fall away and then they fought back and found a way.

"Hawthorn's game plan isn't the same as ours, but what it did say is sticking to it and persisting and that's the challenge.

"That's what the good teams do. They take it away from you and then you fall away and play a little bit differently.

"It didn't look like Hawthorn did, to their credit. So that will be our challenge, sticking to our plan."

Ratten says his Saints are a work in progress and they will gain a clearer sense of where they stand when they take on the AFL's benchmark team.

"It doesn't matter when you play them, but I suppose earlier in the season, it's good to see where you are.

"To come up against Melbourne - the MCG, that's their fortress, they play great footy there.

"It's a huge challenge, but it's a great opportunity ... we'll have to play our best."

There has been commentary that St Kilda paid a heavy price for playing a home game in Cairns, given Port scored an upset win.

Ratten is unfazed about the venue, just frustrated that the Saints were unable to finish off a game he feels they could easily have won.

"It was just one of those days," he said.

"As team you have to be ready to play anywhere.

"For us, 61 inside 50s, 22 shots at goal, plus-22 in contested ball, plus-11 in tackles - the numbers are there for the opportunity to win the game.

"I don't think it's the venue, I think we just make the most of our opportunities.

"So whether it's Cairns, Sydney, Perth, it doesn't matter. We had that opportunity and we missed it."

Also this week, there has been talk that Saints ruckman Rowan Marshall could be targetted by Essendon as a potential recruit.

Ratten says he has seen no signs that Marshall will want to leave at the end of the season.

"Hopefully he signs here for a very long time, but it's part of the game," he said.

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