THE STATS show St Kilda is very efficient with its disposal but Saints coach Alan Richardson isn't letting that number cloud his view of the team's ball use this year.
St Kilda has struggled with its foot skills, particularly entering the forward line, but Richardson said his side had shown signs of improvement in a disastrous season, having won just once in 2018.
"We're No.1 in the competition (St Kilda is second for disposal efficiency behind Collingwood), you wouldn't believe this, for possession efficiency. There's a big part of what we're trying to do is working. There's some finishing parts that haven't been working," Richardson told reporters at Melbourne airport on Friday.
He acknowledged that stat wasn't everything.
"To be honest, it's probably something that looks a bit better than what it is in reality, but we have no illusions about the fact that we've still got to do a fair bit of work to maximise in front of the ball," Richardson said.
"Some of our rebound has been pretty positive. Last week, against Richmond, the best team in the competition, from the back to the front, they scored three goals, we scored five and when you consider that maximising scores has been a bit of an issue, that part of our play is starting to get where we want it to be.
"I reckon there were a few weeks there, on the back of form and perhaps our guys losing a bit of confidence in their play, were quite conservative, but that has been pleasing the last few weeks, that we're bolder again with the ball."
Richardson is on the brink of having the equal-worst coaching record since 1967 of those who have been in charge for 100 games, a number he will bring up against West Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
If the Saints lose to the ladder-leaders, Richardson will have won just 34 matches as coach.
"We tend to look at, as coaches, the performance of the team, not necessarily the performance of yourself," Richardson said.
"The reality is right now, we're not playing the sort of footy on a consistent basis that we'd like to.
"Up until this year, I think the build was heading the right way. All I do now is focus in on getting us back to our best game."
Onballer Luke Dunstan won't face the Eagles after suffering a right shoulder knock last week against Richmond.
"He trained, he gave himself every opportunity. He was pretty keen to play but we just didn't think he was quite right," Richardson said.
Draftee Nick Coffield hasn't been able to win his spot back after being rested for the Tigers clash and is being kept out by the likes of Brandon White and Bailey Rice.
"Whilst we know he can play down back, we want him to end up being a really explosive midfielder. The beauty of the VFL is he gets the opportunity to do a bit of both," Richardson said.
"He'll play back and midfield and I expect he'd be back in the team pretty soon."