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St Kilda stun AFL leaders Port Adelaide

St Kilda’s emergence as an AFL force has continued with an upset 29-point away victory against ladder leaders Port Adelaide.

The Saints produced a stunning final-quarter surge to win 12.1 (73) to 6.8 (44) to rise to third on the table.

After leading by a solitary point at three quarter-time on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval, the Saints booted five goals to none in arguably the club’s best win in years.

“Our work around the stoppages and the contest was really, really pleasing,” St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said.

“We did a lot right tonight.”

St Kilda’s midfield brigade was dominant, headed by Jack Billings (22 disposals), Hunter Clark (24 possessions) and Zak Jones (20 touches, eight clearances).

Ruck tandem Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder kicked two goals each, a return matched by attackers Dan Butler and 100-gamer Tim Membrey.

And Jade Gresham (23 touches, one goal), Jack Steele (22 disposals) and Seb Ross (18 possessions) also found plenty of the ball in St Kilda’s fifth win of the season.

Port’s attack – the highest-scoring in the league entering the fixture – was blunted with headliners Charlie Dixon and Robbie Gray managing one goal apiece.

The Power couldn’t find a multiple goal kicker as they slipped to their second loss of the year.

Port were overly reliant on the input of halfback Darcy Byrne-Jones (21 possessions), with cameo support from onballer Dan Houston (18 disposals) and Brad Ebert (seven inside 50s), while Peter Ladhams lost the rucks but picked up 20 disposals.

“The contest stuff was the biggest challenge for us,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said.

“We weren’t able to be as hard as strong as we needed to – and they were much harder and stronger.”

Port defender Trent McKenzie was a late scratching after suffering back spasms in the warm-up, with veteran Justin Westhoff summoned after being dropped on Thursday.

The Power led 2.1 to 1.1 after an even opening term but the Saints, with goals to ex-Port ruckman Ryder, Membrey and a late long shot from Nick Hind, pinched a three-point lead at halftime.

Both teams mustered two goals in a frantic third term, with the visitors one point up entering the last.

The Saints stormed to victory with a spirited surge reaping five goals in a 17-minute purple patch, bookended by a rolling Gresham snap and an accurate set shot from Max King.

The shell-shocked Power could manage just two behinds for the term. They still hold top spot, however, ahead of their clash with Melbourne on Thursday night in Brisbane.

St Kilda play Sydney, also in Brisbane, next Saturday.

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