Tough talk sparked Saints' AFL finals bid

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Brett Ratten has revealed a series of "really hard conversations" inspired St Kilda's dramatic post-bye turnaround and reignited the club's AFL finals hopes.

Having struggled to cope with the unavailability of some key players, the Saints went to the mid-season break with a 5-8 record, seemingly incapable of scaling the heights they did last year.

But successive victories over Richmond, Collingwood and Brisbane have put them firmly back in the hunt ahead of Saturday's crunch clash with Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium.

A fourth straight win could see the Saints move as high as seventh by the end of round 18, with at least two finals spots still up for grabs.

"It's not great when you're not performing to a level that you want to, but you're never as bad as you think you are, either," Ratten said.

"Really, we just cut it right back and had some really hard conversations around what we wanted to do as a team.

"That's win, lose or draw, and that doesn't matter, and that will stay the same for the rest of the year.

"But those conversations were the critical part for us, to be honest, with everybody ... me included. They've been very healthy for us."

Since the bye, St Kilda have held reigning premiers Richmond to their lowest score in 60 years, resisted a late fightback from Collingwood and outmuscled high-flying Brisbane in Queensland last week.

"We get a shot of confidence, there's no doubt about it, when you perform against a quality opposition (like Brisbane)," Ratten said.

"It was an arm wrestle there for a while and we came through that really strong, which was great."

St Kilda named an unchanged 22 this week but injuries have forced three changes for Port Adelaide, with star trio Zak Butters (knee), Steven Motlop (ankle) and Connor Rozee (knee) all ruled out.

Riley Bonner, Boyd Woodcock and Peter Ladhams all return for the fifth-placed Power.

Ladhams and Scott Lycett will take on key Saints ruck pairing Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, who have been crucial to their side's mid-season resurgence.

"They're quality players and they give our midfield confidence to attack and be proactive in there instead of reactive," Ratten said.

"That's the pleasing part and there's no doubt that Marshall in the front half as well gives (Max) King a fair bit of support and takes a bit of pressure off him."

Versatile tall Josh Battle was a chance to return to the Saints' team against Port Adelaide but will miss the rest of the season with an ankle bone stress injury that was diagnosed this week.

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