ST KILDA’S exhilarating 2020 form has returned with the Saints crushing Hawthorn by 69 points to put life in their stuttering AFL season.
Entering Saturday’s clash at Marvel Stadium under the pump at 2-4, St Kilda immediately hit top-gear by booting 5.4 before the Hawks managed their first score early in the second quarter.
Despite some brief periods of resistance from Hawthorn, the Saints basically did as they pleased to win 19.14 (128) to 9.5 (59) in a crucial percentage-boosting result.
Without key trio Jaeger O’Meara, Chad Wingard and Shaun Burgoyne, Hawthorn were no match for a team determined to back up their first finals campaign in nine years.
It was the Hawks’ worst loss since round six, 2017.
In heavy defeats to Richmond and Port Adelaide during the previous fortnight, St Kilda managed to kick a combined tally of 12 goals.
But their attacking spark, which became the Saints’ trademark during their run to last year’s semi-final, was back in spectacular fashion.
St Kilda’s ball use through the middle of the ground was exceptional, putting Hawthorn’s defence under such pressure returning star forward Jack Gunston was thrown back at stages to stem the bleeding.
Midfielder Zak Jones had a career-best outing, picking up 24 possessions and kicking two goals in the first-half alone on his way to 37 touches for the match.
Perennially under-fire Brad Hill enjoyed one of his most dominant games since joining the Saints last year, setting the standard early with 11 first-quarter possessions.
Former Richmond forward Jack Higgins was St Kilda’s leading goal-kicker with four, while veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder made a classy return to reignite his successful partnership with fellow big man Rowan Marshall.
St Kilda will head to the Gold Coast next Saturday to face the Suns, who will be buoyed by an outstanding win at the MCG against Collingwood.
Hawthorn (2-5), meanwhile, will host West Coast at the MCG on Sunday.
(C) AAP 2021
ST KILDA 5.4 10.9 14.11 19.14 (128)
HAWTHORN 0.0 4.2 6.3 9.5 (59)
Goals: St Kilda: J Higgins 4 D Butler 3 H Clark 2 M King 2 R Marshall 2 T Membrey 2 Z Jones 2 J Sinclair N Coffield. Hawthorn: J Koschitzke 2 L Breust 2 B McEvoy D Moore L Shiels M Lewis O Hanrahan.
Umpires: Brendan Hosking, Curtis Deboy, Cameron Dore.
Venue: Marvel Stadium.