ST KILDA will resist the urge to make a statement at the selection table following a dismal defeat to Richmond on Thursday night, with coach Brett Ratten launching a staunch defence of out-of-form wingman Bradley Hill.
Ratten said his side got "beaten up" and accused the Saints of "falling off the face of the earth" in a disastrous 86-point loss to the Tigers, where they struggled desperately in the second half.
St Kilda had just 11 inside-50s for the entire half and conceded 12 of the game's final 15 goals at Marvel Stadium, with Hill's influence again coming under the spotlight after he finished with just 10 disposals and no tackles.
But despite the club's confidence it will regain Zak Jones from soreness and Rowan Marshall from a foot injury for next week's road trip to face Port Adelaide, Hill's spot is not expected to be in danger.
"We won't drop Brad Hill," Ratten said.
"It was a five-day turnaround and he didn't perform to the level he can. He played well last week.
"We need to back him in and he needs to get going, too. It's the same as Nick Coffield and it's the same conversation I had with him this week. He needed to get going because we can't keep giving games.
"But 'Hilly' has had some OK performances. In the GWS game, he didn't get a heap of the ball but what he did with the ball was brilliant in really wet conditions. Last week, he played pretty well.
"I think everybody is putting the spotlight on him, but there are a few others as well."
St Kilda was thrashed around the midfield, also losing the clearance count 27-10 in the second half and winning just two of 14 centre clearances after half-time in a thoroughly disappointing performance.
The Saints coach suggested he told his side to "toughen up" after overseeing their sluggish second-half display, describing it as particularly disappointing after the Tigers employed the 184cm Marlion Pickett in the ruck.
What's more worrying for St Kilda is that its horror performance from the midfield repeated a concerning trend from a fortnight ago, when it was badly beaten in a 75-point loss to the previously winless Essendon.
"Halfway through the second quarter, we thought we were right in the game," Ratten said.
"We made some skill errors towards the back-end of the second quarter and we put ourselves in a little bit of doubt with the ball. But from then, it was 35-10 clearances in Richmond's way, it was 37-11 for first possessions.
"That made us defend and they had territory on us. That's the area of the game where we can't pick and choose when we want to jump in and play. For a quarter and a bit, we were good. Last week, we were pretty good for the whole game.
SAINTS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
"That's something we have to address, because against Essendon it was poor. Now we've had two (in three weeks) like this. For a half of footy, that was poor. We got beaten up and we didn't handle their pressure."
Richmond responded to consecutive defeats at the hands of Sydney and Port Adelaide with an emphatic performance, with coach Damien Hardwick suggesting afterwards that it was the best the Tigers have looked so far this year.
Shai Bolton (eight clearances) led the way from the heart of the midfield, with Shane Edwards (seven), Toby Nankervis (six), Trent Cotchin (five) and Dustin Martin (five) also influential in the convincing win.
"A lot of it was on the back of clearance," Hardwick said.
"The game was corresponding to those numbers … I think in the second half, our guys got to work and drove their legs a little bit more. They fought through tackles and got the ball to the outside.
"A lot of credit goes to our centre bounce players and Toby Nankervis was terrific once again, so it was a real positive for us.
"It was some of our best football that we've played, there's no doubt. As a coach, you'll always look for areas of growth and we'll certainly find them in the review."