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Hawks torch Saints in AFL pre-season game

Hawthorn at near full-strength are tough opposition for any AFL team, let alone a young St Kilda team missing several key players.


The two-time defending premiers capped their pre-season with a 106-point demolition of the Saints on Thursday night at Etihad Stadium.

Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis were best afield with 33 disposals apiece as the Hawks won 0.22.13 (145) to 1.4.6 (39).

By three-quarter time, the Hawks had kicked 20.10 – the highest score of this year’s NAB Challenge.

The Saints took it up to Hawthorn early, but were no match for a team missing only four players from last year’s premiership 22.

Hawthorn led by 32 points at quarter-time and the Saints did not kick their first goal until Mav Weller booted accurately in the 13th minute of the second term.

Adding to a tough night, St Kilda defender Nathan Wright was forced off with a corked thigh after a heavy collision with Hawks ruckman Ben McEvoy.

Mitchell, acting captain Isaac Smith, usual skipper Luke Hodge and Lewis shone as the Hawks dismantled a team widely tipped to finish bottom again.

Forwards Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust and Jack Gunston kicked three goals apiece.

Saints midfielder Jack Steven had 33 disposals and young gun Luke Dunstan had an invaluable education as he went head-to-head with Hodge.

St Kilda were missing first-choice players such as captain Nick Riewoldt, Jarryn Geary, Jack Billings and David Armitage.

It later emerged Wright has a thigh strain, putting him in serious doubt for their round-one game against GWS.

Veteran utility Leigh Montagna also had to leave the ground in the second half with a knee injury, but the Saints are hopeful he will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Hawks senior assistant coach Brendon Bolton, who was in charge for Thursday’s game, said there was much to like about their performance.

“We were really pleased, particularly with our tackling and the amount of turnovers we scored (from) in our half,” he said.

“Defensively, we were ‘on’ and we needed an increase in that area of the game.”

Saints coach Alan Richardson said he expected better from his team.

“We need to learn from it,” he said of the loss.

“We got beaten really, really convincingly in the contest.

“They made us look like kids at times, the way they brushed us off when we tried to tackle.”