Jade Gresham celebrates a goal in the round two clash between the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

ST KILDA has proved its resurgence under Ross Lyon wasn't a one-off, dismantling a listless Western Bulldogs by 51 points to maintain a perfect start to the season.

The Saints booted the first five goals of the game, then held their nerve through a Bulldogs second-term resurgence before kicking away for a 14.8 (92) to 5.11 (41) victory to condemn Luke Beveridge's charges to a 0-2 start.

Boom draftee Mattaes Phillipou underlined his talent with a brilliant performance in attack, scoring three goals including a sensational long-range effort to steady the Saints at the start of the third quarter.

BULLDOGS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats

With Max King and Tim Membrey still sidelined, Mitch Owens (three goals), Jade Gresham, former Bulldog Zaine Cordy and late signing Anthony Caminiti (two goals apiece) helped Phillipou kick a winning score.


Ruckman Rowan Marshall (20 disposals, nine clearances, 28 hitouts) was a force and Mason Wood (24 disposals) continued his standout start to the season on the wing.

Skipper Jack Steele (28 disposals, six clearances) and Jack Sinclair (33 touches) were typically excellent.

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Bulldogs pair Tom Liberatore (24 touches) and Bailey Smith (28 disposals, 596 metres gained) worked hard all game, while skipper Marcus Bontempelli lifted in the second quarter.

But the disjointed Bulldogs largely lacked bite and explosiveness, and were unable to find answers to St Kilda's relentless pressure.


Aaron Naughton booted two goals but young talls Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy failed to influence the scoreboard.

The Saints burst out of the blocks, nabbing their first goal via Phillipou inside the opening 35 seconds and a second to Owens barely a minute later.

Bulldogs defender Liam Jones required a first-quarter concussion test after his head hit Phillipou's legs then the ground, but was cleared to return.

The Saints led by 32 points early in the second quarter before recruit Oskar Baker finally nailed the Dogs' first goal 18 minutes in, starting a run of four in a row.


The fourth arrived when Tim English slotted a free kick after the siren to cut the half-time deficit to five points.

The late score prompted a brief scuffle among the players, with Cordy in the thick of things.

The start of the third term was an arm wrestle but the Saints wrested back control when Jones marked in the middle of the ground, attempted to burst forward and was run down by Dan Butler.

The quick turnover ended in a lovely long-range goal to Caminiti, his first at the top level.

Anthony Caminiti celebrates a goal in the round two clash between the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 25, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The Saints never looked back from there, kicking nine goals to the Bulldogs' one in the second half to cruise to victory.

Saints finding the key to Lyon's cage
The St Kilda of recent years has been a team of occasionally unstoppable attacking thrusts, but capable of far too little when the ball was going the other way. Enter Ross Lyons. The returning coach has clearly drilled his defensive mantra into his new charges over summer and the difference is already noticeable. In the first quarter the Dogs couldn't breathe without having a black, white and red jumper on their backs, forcing turnovers through real and perceived pressure. The clamps lifted slightly as the game went on, but it's early days and as the season progresses there's no doubt Lyon's signature gameplan will be honed to a finely tuned point. 

Mattaes Phillipou and Bradley Hill tackle Ed Richards in the round two clash between the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

There's little bite in the big Dogs
The Bulldogs played four tall forwards in round one - Aaron Naughton, Sam Darcy, Jamara Ugle-Hagan and Rory Lobb - for a return of just two goals. Lobb was missing injured on Saturday night, clearing some space for the remaining trio, but they could still only manage another two goals between them, both to Naughton. It will be interesting to see if the forest of talls is cleared further next round with Lobb likely a while away and Darcy subbed out in the third quarter after failing to score from just two disposals.

Aaron Naughton is outnumbered in the round two clash between the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Blue collar, white collar: young Saints get the job done
The wraps on Mattaes Phillipou were big through his draft year of 2022 and his start in the AFL is confirming what many thought - this boy can play! Lining up against his father's former side (Sam Phillipou played three games for the Dogs), Phillipou slotted three goals and looked dangerous whenever the Saints went forward. Supplementary Selection Period pick up Anthony Caminiti came in via the tradesman's entrance, but he is proving himself a canny addition, getting involved in plenty of the action and kicking a booming third-quarter goal and a set shot in the last. Needing a minor rebuild at least, Ross Lyon will be excited to see a couple of 10-year prospects making an early impression.




WESTERN BULLDOGS     0.1     4.5     5.8      5.11 (41)
ST KILDA                 
        4.1     5.4     11.5     14.8 (92)

Western Bulldogs: Naughton 2, Garcia, English, Baker
St Kilda: Phillipou 3, Owens 3, Gresham 2, Cordy 2, Caminiti 2, Wood, Steele

Western Bulldogs: English, Smith, Crozier, Liberatore, Bontempelli
St Kilda: Steele, Sinclair, Owens, Crouch, Marshall, Wood, Phillipou

Western Bulldogs: Nil
St Kilda: Steele (shoulder)

Western Bulldogs: Robbie McComb (replaced Sam Darcy in the third quarter)
St Kilda: Marcus Windhager (replaced Ryan Byrnes in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 33,294 at Marvel Stadium