Ratten hails Saints after AFL rebound win

Saints coach Brett Ratten (third from left) celebrates his side's win over the Western Bulldogs.
Saints coach Brett Ratten (third from left) celebrates his side's win over the Western Bulldogs.

A message of support from Alan Richardson added to the bittersweet feeling for St Kilda caretaker Brett Ratten as the Saints climbed off the AFL canvas to defeat the Western Bulldogs in Ratten's first game in charge.

The caretaker curse struck again on Sunday as the Saints blew the top-eight hopeful Bulldogs away with a convincing 17.14 (116) to 14.5 (89) victory at Marvel Stadium.

Days after parting ways with Richardson, the Saints responded by piling on six goals to one in a game-defining opening quarter.

Having become the third interim coach this season to secure a rebound win - following on from North Melbourne's Rhyce Shaw and Carlton's David Teague - Ratten paid tribute after the game to his predecessor.

"Richo sent me a text today wishing me all the best," Ratten said.

"He's away at the moment and it's just through circumstances that I get to sit in his position. I feel for him enormously.

"Footy is a brutal game and we've got to move forward. For the players to respond that way and execute the way they did was really pleasing."

Young guns Hunter Clark, Rowan Marshall and Jack Billings led the way for the Saints, providing a timely reminder of the future talent on their list.

""I took myself out as the forwards coach ... and then straight away we scored 100 points," Ratten joked.

"There wasn't huge changes. I think it was just trying to instil belief into the group and give them confidence.

"For them to only have 19 shots at goal is something the group have done really well."

The remaining rounds are effectively an audition for Ratten, who would love to secure a full-time appointment - either at Moorabbin or at his old club Carlton, where he served as senior coach between 2007 and 2012.

Ratten has experienced the highs and lows of AFL coaching, having been sacked in his final season at Carlton and served as an assistant during Hawthorn's premiership trifecta.

"Going through the successful periods and the non-successful helps you create your story as a coach and then how you adapt to that in situations," Ratten said.

"In the last year of my coaching tenure at Carlton, I learned so much through that period as well.

"Your failures and success help shape the person and there's no doubt with maturity and more experience, it's helped me enormously."

Australian Associated Press