MAX KING and Jack Higgins have produced an inspired third-quarter burst to help lift St Kilda to a 10-point win over Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
King tallied just two disposals in the first half of Sunday's match, but he burst to life in the third term when he booted three goals in the space of 132 seconds of actual game time.
DOCKERS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats
Higgins kicked three goals for the quarter himself, with the onslaught helping overturn a 13-point deficit and set up the 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55) win.
King, who took a strong mark with six minutes remaining in the match to kick the sealer, finished with four goals and four contested marks in a match-winning display.
Higgins, who kicked 0.4 in last week's loss to Collingwood, tallied 4.2 from 16 possessions as King's partner in crime.
HAIL TO THE HEROES Ratten's praise for King and Higgins
Fremantle midfielder Andrew Brayshaw racked up 39 disposals and eight tackles, while Rory Lobb and Travis Colyer kicked two goals apiece.
Dockers ruckman Sean Darcy limped off early in the second half with a right ankle injury, and he was eventually subbed out after making a brief return to the field.
St Kilda's inaccuracy cost them dearly in a hard-fought first half that featured plenty of huge bumps and tackles.
Dockers goalsneak Lachie Schultz produced the highlight of the first term when he thumped back a bouncing ball on the boundary line for Travis Colyer to run onto and kick a goal.
Saints trio Jade Gresham, Higgins, and Tim Membrey all missed gettable shots on goal in the first quarter.
Turnovers from Fremantle duo Hayden Young and Jordan Clark gifted the Saints two quick goals early in the second term, but the Dockers' efficiency up forward ensured they entered half-time with a 12-point buffer.
St Kilda had 2.7 to their name at the break, with Membrey posting 0.3, however, it was the Higgins and King show in the third quarter as Fremantle lost its way.
King's three-goal burst in the space of two minutes was particularly destructive, with each goal coming from a mark.
The 18-point lead to the Saints at three-quarter time would have been even more if King and Higgins had nailed their set shots just before the break.
Freo dominated for long periods of the final term, but wayward kicking into attack meant the Saints' defenders picked them off time and again.
Dockers debutant Nathan O'Driscoll finally broke the shackles with a superb running goal from a tight angle, but King's pack mark minutes later killed off the home side's fightback.
When Max is on he's King
The four-goal second-half haul from Max King was the impetus St Kilda needed to get into gear, as teammates found someone to kick to and Dockers defenders someone to worry about. However, his two-possession first half was anything but intimidating. It's a big ask to carry a team's hopes on the shoulders of a 21 year old, but if the Saints are to play finals they need their potential matchwinner to become the real thing in a consistent fashion. And let's face it, if half a game can get them there, imagine what this side could be with King on fire for the full four quarters.
No stars makes for a dark night in Fremantle
With skipper and dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe on the sidelines, veteran forward Michael Walters struggling for form and ruckman Sean Darcy cursed by injuries, Fremantle is seriously lacking star power. Andrew Brayshaw was excellent again for the Dockers, but while he is becoming elite in all aspects of the game, the 22-year-old midfielder lacks the X-factor that can set his teammates alight. Rory Lobb has his moments but not his days, and Matt Taberner will be a handy inclusion when he returns, but again, he isn't one to turn a match on its head. Justin Longmuir needs to search hard for the next Fyfe if he is going to turn this team into something extraordinary.
They're a weird mob, and sometimes sensational
It's been a slow and calculated rebuild at Moorabbin, with a mix of high draft picks and carefully targeted trades brought in as St Kilda mounts its ladder ascent, but the success of the exercise has understandably been questioned. However, on Sunday night it was the high-profile imports that led the way, with Jack Steele (formerly GWS), Bradley Hill (Fremantle), Brad Crouch (Adelaide) and Jack Higgins (Richmond) all featuring among the best players list. Steele aside, that has not been a list of reliability while wearing red, white and black, but if they can find consistency, and hopefully be joined by fellow imports and former Swans Zak Jones and Dan Hannebery, then who knows the battles this Foreign Legion might win.
FREMANTLE 3.0 5.1 6.4 8.7 (55)
ST KILDA 0.4 2.7 8.10 9.11 (65)
Fremantle: Lobb 2, Colyer 2, Brayshaw, Meek, Walters, O'Driscoll
St Kilda: Higgins 4, King 4, Butler
Fremantle: Brayshaw, Ryan, Young, Brodie, Aish
St Kilda: King, Hill, Higgins, Steele, Crouch, Gresham
Fremantle: Darcy (ankle)
St Kilda: None
Fremantle: Nathan O'Driscoll, replaced Sean Darcy in the fourth quarter
St Kilda: Cooper Sharman (unused)