MELBOURNE has won its opening two games of a season for the first time in four years after grinding out an 18-point victory over St Kilda.
Five consecutive goals to the Demons during the second and third quarters put a wedge between the sides in an error-riddled contest under the roof at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
New co-captain Jack Steele helped drag the Saints back into the contest briefly but the Dees steadied, with livewire Kysaiah Pickett kicking two goals in the 12.19 (91) to 11.7 (73) win.
Compounding St Kilda's woes was a jaw injury to Jimmy Webster from an errant tackle that saw him substituted out of the match during the third quarter.
SAINTS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
The defender joins fellow first-choice selections Dan Hannebery, James Frawley, Rowan Marshall and Jarryn Geary on a long injury list.
Pickett was dangerous around stoppages in Melbourne's forward half and showed flashes of brilliance, delivering a goal-of-the-round contender during the second term.
The work of midfielders Clayton Oliver (37 disposals), Christian Salem and Christian Petracca (both 30) was important for the Demons.
On an emotional night, St Kilda launched the inaugural Spud's Game in memory of the late Danny Frawley - an initiative to support and raise awareness for mental health programs.
Jack Viney kicked two first-quarter goals on return from a hamstring injury as the Demons had the better of the play early before Max King (two goals) helped spark a five-goal run for the Saints in a see-sawing start.
Pickett provided the highlight of the first half with a brilliant snapped goal, roving a pack and evading two tackles before kicking truly.
It was one of three goals in a six-minute burst that gave the Dees a four-point lead at the main break.
The trend continued in the third quarter as the sleepy Saints were made to pay for a series of errors in their back half.
Goals to Ed Langdon and Charlie Spargo made it five straight for the Dees, but they didn't put their collective foot down when given the chance.
Kozzie is a magician
Kysaiah Pickett is quickly becoming a nightmare match-up for opposition defenders. In just his 16th AFL match, the 19-year-old produced a moment of magic in the second quarter. The crafty forward roved the ball brilliantly off the pack, danced between three Saints, broke a tackle and then expertly finished with his left foot. He created more havoc in the second half with more flashes of brilliance including another cracking snap to effectively seal the victory.
Saints' Superman can do it all
Promoted to co-captain at the start of the season, Jack Steele has taken his game to a new level in 2021. He already knew how to find to find the ball and lay a tackle, but this year he is adding goals to his game. He slotted a set shot in the first quarter and inspired the Saints' third-quarter fightback with two goals in quick time. If he can continue hitting the scoreboard then he will quickly elevate himself to the top handful of players in the game.
Hill's radar needs realigning
Bradley Hill was brought to the club for his elite running and classy foot skills. But Saints fan will be wondering what happened to his skills after his performance against the Demons. There were countless occasions where Hill was streaming through the middle, but despite being under no pressure he kept turning the ball over. These are the coach killers that ultimately proved costly in a game the Saints could have easily won.
ST KILDA 3.2 6.3 8.4 11.7 (73)
MELBOURNE 3.4 6.7 9.13 12.19 (91)
St Kilda: Steele 3, King 2, Membrey, Battle, Billings, McKernan, Gresham, Higgins
Melbourne: Viney 2, Pickett 2, McDonald 2, Jones, Neal-Bullen, Sparrow, Langdon, Spargo, Fritsch
St Kilda: Steele, Billings, Howard, Ross, Gresham
Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Salem, Pickett, Gawn
St Kilda: Webster (jaw)
St Kilda: Jack Bytel (replaced Webster)
Melbourne: Oskar Baker (unused)