THE AFL caretaker curse has struck again with an inspired St Kilda stunning the Western Bulldogs by 27 points in Brett Ratten’s first game in charge.
Overcoming a four-game losing streak and striking a blow to the Bulldogs’ finals hopes, the Saints stormed out of the gates on Sunday at Marvel Stadium and weathered a Bulldogs resurgence to triumph 17.14 (116) to 14.5 (89).
Days after parting ways with Alan Richardson, the Saints piled on six goals to one in the opening quarter with Jack Lonie responsible for three of them.
Having trailed by 43 points at halftime, the Dogs refused to lie down and fought their way back to within four goals.
But their hopes of a comeback victory evaporated when Lonie slotted the opening goal of the final term and Josh Bruce followed up minutes later.
It is the first time the Saints have cracked the 100-point mark this season.
Lonie and Tim Membrey each finished with four majors, while second-year midfielder Hunter Clark (26 disposals, two goals) and emerging ruckman Rowan Marshall (32 hitouts, 21 disposals) continued their superb form.
The Dogs could have gone equal on points with eighth-placed Essendon but remain in the chasing pack in 12th.
Bailey Dale (five goals), Tory Dickson (four goals) and Josh Dunkley (38 disposals) were all influential in the Bulldogs’ fightback, but Marcus Bontempelli was clearly below his best after hurting his ankle last week.
The Dogs went a man down in the third term when forward Josh Schache landed awkwardly in a marking contest and hit his head hard on the turf.
While the 14th-placed Saints are out of the finals hunt, Sunday’s victory makes it three for three first-up wins this season for interim coaches.
Rhyce Shaw inspired North Melbourne to an upset win over Richmond in round 11 and David Teague coached Carlton to victory over Brisbane the following week.
The remaining rounds are effectively an audition for Ratten, who would love to secure a full-time appointment.
Ratten coached six games for six losses as caretaker coach at Carlton in 2007 before taking over the role permanently the following season.
© AAP 2019
ST KILDA 6.5 11.6 13.9 17.14 (116)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 4.5 10.5 14.5 (89)
Goals: St Kilda: J Lonie 4 T Membrey 4 H Clark 2 J Billings 2 D Langlands J Bruce J Gresham J Newnes M Parker. Western Bulldogs: B Dale 5 T Dickson 4 S Lloyd 2 J Schache R Smith T English.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Jacob Mollison, Andrew Heffernan.
Venue: Marvel Stadium.