Saints prevail in gritty battle of attrition against the Hawks

Having bravely fought on in the absence of their core midfield quartet, and defensive pillars James Frawley and Ben Stratton, Hawthorn were ultimately overrun by a gritty St Kilda outfit at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

Themselves depleted, the Saints were 24 points down approaching time-on of the third quarter but charged back. St Kilda still trailed deep into an agonisingly tense final quarter before Hawk David Mirra was called to be holding the ball deep in defence.

Tight contest: Hawthorn’s Jarman Impey (left) gives off under pressure from Saint Ben Long.Credit:AAP

From the ensuing free kick, Jack Lonie slotted his third goal of the game to put St Kilda in front 20 minutes into the last quarter. The Saints thought they’d kicked even further clear when Jack Sinclair appeared to have goaled, only for his score to be reduced to a behind on review.

But the Saints hung on for a five-point victory, leaving them with three wins from four games in 2019, a remarkable achievement given their list of absentees include Dan Hannebery, Jake Carlisle, Dylan Roberton, Jack Steven, Paddy McCartin and unwell skipper Jarryn Geary.

Up against a sorely undermanned Hawthorn midfield, stand-in skipper Seb Ross ran amok, finishing with 39 disposals and a goal. Lonie was lively but wasteful, kicking 3.5, while Rowan Marshall came of age in the ruck, beating former Saint Ben McEvoy hands down. The Hawks could at least be buoyed by the game of Tom Scully, who finished with 26 disposals and two goals in his third outing for Hawthorn.

Game on: Jack Lonie kicked the match-winning goal for St Kilda.Credit:AAP

When it rains, it pours

Hawthorn’s medical staff have been lauded over the years for the way they’ve managed to get Shaun Burgoyne, Jaeger O’Meara and most recently Scully back on the field after arriving at Waverley with injury concerns. Well, the Hawks’ doctors earned their money on Sunday. It was a veritable revolving door on the Hawthorn bench, and that’s before you consider those on the injury list before the game.

Isaac Smith received some attention to his hand at quarter time. Then things escalated. Frawley was done by midway through the term with a hamstring injury. James Cousins headed down the race with an ankle problem although returned in the second half, Conor Nash received some attention to his glute, Daniel Howe and Chad Wingard both had stints off the ground because of the blood rule, while captain Stratton went off the ground after landing heavily in the third term and didn’t return.

On tap: Hawk Jonathon Ceglar takes on Saint Rowan Marshall.Credit:AAP

Not that the Saints escaped unscathed. St Kilda lost Geary to illness as a very late change, Matt Parker went down the race with a leg injury, Daniel McKenzie sat out the second half with concussion while Marshall needed some bandaging to his face.

Counting steps

It was a moment that should have left St Kilda coach Alan Richardson shaking his head. With scores level inside the final 30 seconds of the second quarter, defender Nathan Brown conceded a 50-metre penalty for overstepping the mark, bringing Ricky Henderson within range. Henderson kicked truly from around 45 metres out, for his second goal of the game, leaving St Kilda on the back foot at the long break.

Greener Meadows?

Hindsight is 20/20 vision, but did Hawthorn err in not upgrading mature-age West Australian midfielder Luke Meadows in the supplemental selection period after Tom Mitchell went down with a broken leg? With Mitchell expected to miss the entire season, Liam Shiels and Burgoyne both sidelined, and Jaeger O’Meara a late withdrawal on Sunday with a hip injury, the Hawks midfield looked relatively shallow. Meadows, who featured in the Hawthorn intra-club match two months ago, racked up 34 disposals for Box Hill in the curtain-raiser against Sandringham at Marvel on Sunday, but Hawthorn won’t be able to recruit the on-baller until the mid-season draft, where other clubs could also pounce.

Rough and ready: Back in action for Hawthorn, veteran Jarryd Roughhead takes on Callum Wilke during the round 4 loss to St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.Credit:AAP

Ned Reeves – the man the Hawks did pick in the supplemental selection period – hasn’t been able to squeeze his way into the Box Hill lineup so far in 2019. Beanpole Reeves, the son of Hawthorn chief executive Justin, is viewed as a long-term project.

3.2 5.5 8.9 10.14 (74)
3.2 6.5 10.8 10.9 (69)

GOALS – St Kilda: Lonie 3, Long 2, Acres, Bruce, Newnes, Marshall, Ross.
Hawthorn: Roughead 2, Henderson 2, Scully 2, Nash, Wingard, Breust, Puopolo.

BEST – St Kilda: Ross, Billings, Marshall, Lonie, Newnes, Acres, Wilkie, Steele
Hawthorn: Scully, Sicily, Henderson, Scrimshaw, Roughead

INJURIESSt Kilda: Geary (virus) replaced in selected side by Paton, McKenzie (concussion).
Hawthorn: O’Meara (hip) replaced in selected side by Howe, Frawley (hamstring), Stratton (concussion).
UMPIRES:  Jeff Dalgleish, Robert Findlay, Leigh Haussen.
CROWD: 35,883 at Marvel Stadium.

S. Ross (St Kilda) 8
J. Billings (St Kilda) 7
R. Marshall (St Kilda) 7
T. Scully (Hawthorn) 7
J. Lonie (St Kilda) 7

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