INTERIM St Kilda coach Brett Ratten lamented his side's failure to put Adelaide under the pump in its 22-point loss to the Crows at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
The Saints dominated the clearances 42-31 on the back of a superb performance from emerging ruckman Rowan Marshall, had seven more inside 50s than the Crows (53-46) and won contested possessions (140-138), but lost, 14.8 (92) to 10.10 (70).
"We couldn't put them under pressure on the scoreboard enough to put some cracks in their game, or that doubt in their head, that allowed them to play the way they wanted to play for most of the night," Ratten said.
Josh Bruce and Luke Dunstan comfort each other after their finals hopes were extinguished. Picture: AFL Photos
"The players tried very hard, no doubt, we won contested ball, we won clearances, but at the end of the day, we had some opportunities to put some pressure on them, and we didn't.
"Our offence wasn't quite there today the way that we like and defensively, towards the end, we have to defend for longer."
The loss all but ends the Saints' faint hopes of playing in the finals, sitting 8-11 with three rounds of the home and away season remaining.
CROWS SLAM SAINTS Full match coverage and stats
Ratten expected Dan Hannebery, Jimmy Webster, Jack Steven and Blake Acres to be available in the next couple of weeks.
"We never threw up the finals word, it was always teetering in the background," Ratten said.
"I think it's just the way we go about it and finish the year really strong.
"Webster, Steven, we've got Acres to come back. Hannebery will be close as well.
"They'll get a look at it towards the end of the year, whether it's next week or the week after, just depending on how they've gone.
"We want to finish the year off really strong and get some of our senior boys back into the mix as well."
Ratten has done an admirable job since stepping in after Alan Richardson was sacked, winning his first two games in charge before losing to the Crows.
It's his second opportunity as a senior coach after leading Carlton from 2007-12, and Ratten believes he's better equipped having served as an assistant at Hawthorn and the Saints.
"It allows you to be a bit more rounded," Ratten said.
"I was pretty young, 36, whether that's the right time or the wrong time, but it's helped me personally shape some of my coaching philosophies.
"Hopefully it's me next year, but who knows?"