St. Kilda Saints moves closer to ending finals drought

St. Kilda overcame a Hawthorn team boasting five players with under 10 AFL matches to claim a 14-point AFL win at Metricon Stadium.

The Saints moved above Collingwood into sixth place with the 11.14 (80) to 9.12 (66) win as they attempt to end a finals drought stretching back to 2011.

Rowan Marshall, forced to lead the Saints’ forward line in the absence of Tim Membrey (finger) and Max King, kicked two goals and had eight marks while Jack Lonie also slotted two goals.

Hawks midfielder Tom Mitchell led the possession tally with 27 touches while Luke Breust had two goals including a late effort in the fourth quarter which gave Hawthorn hope of an unlikely victory.

Defender Nick Coffield was impressive with 21 disposals and 11 marks.

Ryan Abbott, playing his first match for St Kilda after being a late inclusion when King was rested, settled the contest moments after Breust’s goal before Lonie added some gloss in the dying minutes.

The youthful Hawks, with Alastair Clarkson making seven changes from the team which lost to Adelaide on Tuesday, made a bright start, kicking the first three goals of the match in a high-scoring opening quarter.

St Kilda responded to hit the front after a three-goal burst of their own but two more majors to the Hawks ensured they had a three-point advantage at the first change.

Both teams tightened up in the second term, with the Saints scoring the only major with two minutes left in the quarter to edge their way in front by halftime.

The Hawks were unlucky not to be ahead at the break, with triple-premiership winner Breust guilty of wasting three opportunities at goal including a kick after the siren in the first quarter which was smothered on the mark by Paddy Ryder.

Breust did find the target after halftime as the Hawks hit the front again but an inspirational goal right on three-quarter time by Jack Billings ensured the Saints held a 13-point lead at the final turn.

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