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Two Saints goals that sum up the Demons' disaster

Highlights: Melbourne v St Kilda The Demons and Saints clash in round five

THEY were the two goals that defined the Demons' biggest deficiencies.

First came Jack Billings' major on the stroke of half time.

Almost every Melbourne player defending a stoppage got sucked to the footy. The result was acres of space on the defensive side of the contest, which Billings ran into to score.

Then came Ben Long's precise finish just moments after the restart.

It began from a Melbourne turnover, with the Demons' defence then drawn higher and higher up the field to cover the spare man, before Long capitalised over the top.

Both would have been lamented with an equal measure of frustration by Simon Goodwin.

The Melbourne coach has repeatedly stressed that the defensive side of the Demons' game must get better if his team is to live up to its pre-season billing of premiership contenders.

And yet, from the outset of Saturday's clash at the MCG, the Dees' downfalls were exposed.

SAINTS GO TOP Demons' season sent spiralling down again

In many ways, this was the perfect storm.

A depleted Demons defence that seems unable to plug a leak right now, against a speedy Saints forward line ready to feast upon any opportunity that came its way.

Whether it's conceding strong marks to key forwards, or crumbed chances to the more diminutive types, Melbourne simply can't stop teams from scoring in 2019.

On Saturday afternoon, St Kilda was delighted to be the next team to profit from this.

The most heavily scored against team this year, the Demons were again split open.

Refusing to budge from the aggressive defensive system Goodwin has implemented at the club this year, Melbourne was sliced and diced repeatedly throughout the evening.

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Just as worrying for Goodwin was his side's inability to stop an opposition run of goals.

The Saints kicked eight successive goals across the second and third quarters, following streaks of five against Port Adelaide, six (twice) against Geelong and eight against Essendon.

Consecutive goals conceded by Melbourne 
 ROUND  OPPONENT  GOALS IN STREAK   TIME 
 1  Port Adelaide   5   Q3, 10min - Q4, 7min 
 2  Geelong  6    Q1, 17min - Q2, 16min  
 6  Q3, 10min - Q3, 27min
 3  Essendon  8   Q2 30min - Q3, 23min
 5  St Kilda  8  Q2, 17min - Q3, 19min

While it's simple to point to the injury list – Jake Lever remains a while away from returning from a knee injury and Steven May is still recovering from a groin problem – this was no personnel issue for the Dees. It was structural, and it got ugly. Quickly.

At one stage late in the first half, St Kilda had scored nine times – including seven goals – from just 15 entries. It told the tale of a 15-point half-time lead for the Saints.

Sam Frost might have been the only established key defender playing on Saturday, with both he and youngster Marty Hore struggling to cope with Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce.

GOODWIN FRUSTRATED 'We're easy to play against'

But perhaps more telling was the ease in which St Kilda's smalls could find the footy.

Time and time again the Saints created chances on the ground, zipping out the back to capitalise on a Demon defence that took a steadfast approach to defending high.

Dean Kent, in his first outing against his old team, looked best equipped to do the damage.

He finished with three goals from 20 disposals and seven marks, terrorising his former side with his ability to work up the ground and then push hard back to goal.

Membrey was equally as dangerous to finish with four goals from eight marks.

However, unfortunately for Demons fans, these weren't new issues.

The Dees had entered the week with the third best inside 50 differential in the competition, but yet they were the most scored upon team – conceding more than 100 points per game.

Now, they were being brutally exposed again. The side's demoralising 40-point defeat came despite again winning the inside 50 count – this time doing so 55-47.

A fortnight ago, Goodwin had said Melbourne's defensive woes were "unacceptable".

At 1-4, they're issues that will need to be rectified immediately if the talented Demons are any chance of fulfilling their ambitions of September football.

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