Slick Demons outlast dogged Saints

Melbourne will hit the AFL season with excellent momentum after defeating St Kilda by 24 points to go through the NAB Challenge unbeaten.

The Demons were challenged hard by the Saints for three quarters but finished strongly to register a 1.14.14 (107) to 0.12.11 (83) win.

St Kilda led by four points at the first break after Jack Billings bagged three goals in the opening term but the Dees clawed back the lead early in the second and managed to keep the Saints at bay for the rest of the contest.

Having finished last year 13th and 14th respectively, the Demons and Saints have set themselves for significant improvement this campaign and there was plenty to suggest both are on the right track.

Nathan Jones led the way for Melbourne in customary fashion, but his support cast has improved considerably in the off-season.

Jack Watts finished a promising pre-season with two goals, Tomas Bugg appears to be a good pick-up from GWS, while Christian Salem, Dom Tyson and Jack Viney were among a large group of players who look to have improved with the benefit of another AFL pre-season under their belts.

And No.4 draft pick Clayton Oliver looks set for instant cult status with Demons fans with his wrecking ball approach a feature of his 18-possession, two-goal game.

Exciting spearhead Jesse Hogan had a largely indifferent day but still contributed two goals.

After last week’s clash with Brisbane was called off in a rain-soaked Mackay, the Saints were playing their second NAB Challenge game, which was perhaps a factor as the Demons edged away late.

In his first game of the pre-season, Nick Riewoldt split his time between a wing attacking 50 and moved well without having a significant influence on proceedings.

Jack Steven was important for St Kilda with 30 touches, with Seb Ross and Leigh Montagna also prominent.

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