ST KILDA'S seventh win of the season wasn't perfect but it was a big step forward in maturity, according to coach Brett Ratten.
The Saints had to overcome a final-quarter deficit against Gold Coast, but were able to grind out a four-point win with some late composure.
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Two clinical goals from matchwinner Dan Butler regained his team in the fourth term before young defender Hunter Clark showed maturity well beyond his 21 years to extricate himself from trouble when the Suns were pressing.
"It was a step forward with maturity for our group," Ratten said.
"Some of these games we've let slip (in the past) and we found a way.
"It wasn't perfect for us tonight, aspects of our game were behind the standard that we were after.
"The boys just stuck to it and it was a bit of a grind, and we got there in the end."
Ratten praised Butler, who kicked four goals to take his season tally to 21, saying he was a "pleasure to coach" and would just roll up his sleeves and move on to the following match after his heroics.
The victory moves St Kilda into second place ahead of a match against Geelong at the Gabba on Monday night.
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Ratten said there was plenty to improve on, even conceding the Saints might have been a bit lucky.
"The way we played tonight we gave the opposition a real look at winning the game and we don't want to be doing that too much," he said.
"We got beaten badly at clearances tonight (36-21).
"I thought a lot of the night we over-handballed for the slippery conditions. We fueled a lot of Gold Coast's pressure."
Jarryn Geary was a late withdrawal, but Ratten said it was a precautionary measure with the captain simply "tight".
"It's going to be a long season with players having to play shortened games and four days, five days, but we want to keep our list healthy and if someone was on the risky side, we'd probably err with taking them out," he said.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew was upbeat about his team's showing, particularly its ability to respond from second and third quarter deficits.
Dew said the players were "hurting" from a fifth loss in six matches, but the positives were there.
"I think the overall message was we were in it up to our eyeballs," Dew said.
"We had our opportunities so they're hurting a little bit because we're playing a red-hot team and had an opportunity to win.
"But gee it's exciting to see them come back, to fight back showed real maturity, but also some grit."
Dew was left to lament gifting St Kilda some easy goals, with four of the Saints' first five coming from the goalsquare.
"We talked about trying to build belief. They're not trying to build it anymore, they're getting belief," he said.
"It's exciting and will bind us together even more going through these experiences and hold us in good stead down the track."