- from afl.com.au
ST KILDA coach Alan Richardson says his side still has plenty to prove despite 50-gamer Jack Billings' star showing guiding it to a third straight victory on Saturday at Etihad Stadium.
The 19-point win over Carlton and its dogged defence was far from memorable, especially on the back of the slashing success over flag fancy Greater Western Sydney eight days ago.
The Saints slipped two points behind the Blues when Patrick Cripps goaled inside the opening five minutes of the final term before Seb Ross answered to give his side the lead for good.
In a blow for the victors, defender Jimmy Webster (broken hand) is set to be sidelined for a month until after St Kilda's round 11 bye.
No player on either team was better than much-maligned Billings, who dined out on Carlton to the tune of 30 disposals and a career-best five goals.
It was the 2013 No.3 pick's latest rebuke to those who wrote him off as a disappointment as his draft peers Marcus Bontempelli, Cripps, Tom Boyd, Josh Kelly and Zach Merrett thrived.
"Billings was pretty impressive for us for most of the game. That's a big game as a forward," Richardson said.
"The challenge (to Billings) in the summer months was really personal; it was him wanting to take his game to the next level.
"He's had a bit of bad luck in terms of being able to do pre-seasons, so he was able to have a really strong pre-season (this year) …
"His last two weeks have been positive. That was an exceptional performance today."
Many of the key indicators were in St Kilda's favour, with discrepancies in disposals (420-351), contested possessions (136-116) and inside 50s (55-33), but the Blues proved hard to score on.
Six-time best and fairest Nick Riewoldt did not have a mark in the opening half, with fellow key forwards Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce kicking just a goal each to that point.
Riewoldt finished with 19 possessions and a goal, opposed to Sam Rowe and earlier Caleb Marchbank, but failed to make his usual impact for the second week in a row.
"Expectations (for Riewoldt) are as they always have been; that he just has to play his role for the team and … no one works harder than Riewoldt," Richardson said.
"We did (speak about him having a break) and it was more a reactive conversation after last week's game.
"He had the knee (injury) early in the year, got himself up, played some really strong footy, really positive footy, then two six-day breaks, including a travel.
"He was certainly not quite at his best physically last week, (but he) kicked four goals against the Hawks down in Tassie (and) he did some good stuff for us today."
The pre-season hype about Richardson's Saints is unlikely to subside with them climbing into fifth position, but the coach still wants to see more.
"I'm positive about the way we're heading and I am incredibly realistic that we're at round eight," he said.
"I reckon everyone would acknowledge our best win has been against GWS and we would say the same.
"So we're talking about one win, really, in terms of a win that makes a bit of a statement, so we have no illusions about the work ahead of us."