Beveridge breathes easier as Bulldogs destroy Saints

Aaron Naughton has kicked an equal career-best bag of six goals as the Western Bulldogs eased some of the considerable pressure on coach Luke Beveridge with a 60-point thumping of St Kilda.

Under a blowtorch all week, the Bulldogs entered the contest without star duo Tom Liberatore and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan but were dominant from the outset in the 19.10 (124) to 9.10 (64) victory at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

The Dogs kicked seven goals in an explosive opening term - including three each from Naughton and Cody Weightman - to take an early stranglehold on the contest and were never seriously threatened by the listless Saints.

Beveridge had been heavily criticised during the build-up over perceived mixed messages in the media, unusual selection calls and his team's on-field performances - most notably a meek surrender to Essendon in round five.

But the Dogs' impressive display against a fellow finals contender has allowed their coach to breathe easier, and squared their season record at 3-3 ahead of an interstate trip to face Fremantle in round seven.

"It was a good night for us," Beveridge said.

"We were obviously on the canvas a little bit during the week after what happened last Friday night (against the Bombers).

"So to start so emphatically was encouraging ... it was an important night."

Naughton shone as the focal point in attack against an undersized St Kilda defence without Ugle-Hagan, who was unavailable due to private family reasons, while Weightman provided an early spark with three majors.

Adam Treloar (30 disposals, nine clearances, one goal) and Ed Richards (18 touches, three clearances) also shone in a dominant midfield.

The Bulldogs won a lop-sided centre clearance tally (16-9) and also won the tackle count (70-52).

They got on top despite operating without stoppages beast Liberatore, who is in concussion protocols, and with captain Marcus Bontempelli (24 touches, three clearances) a level below his brilliant best.

Bontempelli finished with three goals - all in the second half - while Bailey Dale responded in positive fashion after being made the substitute last week.

Marcus Bontempelli.
Marcus Bontempelli launches the Bulldogs into attack against the Saints.

Dale tallied a game-high 39 touches across half-back and kicked a vintage long-range goal on the run.

Jack Macrae has also been out of favour at times this season but had his best game of the year with 30 disposals, five clearances, seven tackles and one goal.

"What we're after is even contributions across the ground and you look through the red, white and blue players that played and not too many didn't have an influence," Beveridge said.

"That was pretty important for us.

"I know there were some players who were quite outstanding and will get the accolades but there were a number who were sort of in between and playing important counter-defensive roles that helped others, so that's encouraging."

St Kilda coughed up a triple-figure score for just the third time in Ross Lyon's second stint as coach and suffered their worst defeat of the season after three previous losses by a combined 13 points.

"I'd like to think that's not us," Lyon said.

"I've been with the group for 30 games and we haven't had one performance like that."

Tim Membrey (three) was the Saints' only multiple goal-kicker in the absence of injured spearhead Max King (knee).

Captain Jack Steele (27 disposals, five clearances) and Marcus Windhager (29, five) fought hard in a losing cause.

Lyon conceded his side struggled to cope with a heavy workload, playing their third game in 11 days.

"The physiological demand is extreme and that was the worry," he said.

"In the contest we were okay ... but they really put us to the sword on the outside and their centre-bounce work was very good."

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