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Gunston Takes A Mark. 2016.

Outside it was cold and wintry (by Melbourne standards) but good conditions under the roof at Etihad on Saturday night shielded fans. Inside, it was the Hawks who nearly got the chill. Despite the indoor game, the crowd numbers were down on recent clashes between these two teams. 

Early it was Gunston who opened the scoring for the Hawks. The Saints worked hard around the contests to shut down Hawthorn's run and delivery into the forward link.  Burgoyne finally managed to eke out a second for the Hawks.  St Kilda had plenty of the ball, but not a lot of it in their forward 50.

Steele, Ross and Billings were leading the Saint's disposals.  When they did get the ball forward they tried to catch out the Hawks on the break and win the ball running back towards goal.  But of course when they did this they left themselves open to attack from the Hawks going back the other way. 

Gunston took advantage of this on a quick break and dribbled through Hawthorn's third goal for the first quarter.  The Saints finally scored their first goal for the game with a high snap from Jack Steele floating  through the line out of the pack from 30 meters out.  The Hawks again pulled away with Worpel on the run picking up a quick ball from Burgoyne, shrugging a tackle and drilling home a goal to give the Hawks a 19 point lead at quarter time.

St Kilda were on the board early in the second quarter thanks to a bad pass from Irishman Conor Glass, intercepted by Jack Lonie. His set shot from 50 meters out going straight through the big sticks. Membery added another quickly snapping on his right after roving a spoiled kick in from the Hawks.  Billings added their third for the quarter leveling the scores when he pounced on a spilled long ball in the goal square.

Hawthorn finally broke the run when Gunston delivered to McEvoy front of the goal square and he kicked truly with the set shot. But the lead was short lived as Membery for the Saints worked Brand under the ball and marked 40 meters out and converted the set shot. McEvoy again was in the hot-spot for the Hawks and kicked his second for the quarter.  

The lead continued to see-saw with goals coming in the final minutes before half time to Paton of St Kilda and Gunston of Hawthorn to leave the Hawks with just a 5 point lead at the main break.  St Kilda definitely winning the quarter with much greater forward pressure coming from better ball use in the midfield.  Jack Steven working hard for the Saints to keep Tom Mitchell quiet with only nine disposals to half time.  

Newnes relished taking the lead again for the Saints a minute into the third quarter after marking deep in the pocket.  But it was Gunston again the responder for the Hawks after a free kick 30 out on a 45-degree angle just minutes later. Conor Nash finally kicked his first goal for Hawthorn after missing one last week and earlier tonight.  He marked just outside the square from Gunston and sidestepped the St Kilda defenders in the square and poked the ball home.  Hawthorn kicked their third in a row after Worpel banged the ball inside 50 and it ended in the hands of Puopolo who snapped well across his body. Then Gunston kicked his fourth goal as Breust dished a quick handball out of the pack at the top of the goal square.  

Hawthorn lifted their work rate around the ball in the third quarter, Tom Mitchell was able to shake his tag and it is no coincidence that Hawthorn mounted a scoring run, but Lonie provided a focal point up forward against the inexperienced Conor Glass in the second part of the quarter and kept the Saints in the game.  

St Kilda forced their way back into the contest and after two missed shots in the row the Saints hit back with two goals to Lonie rewarding their effort.  Breust then kicked his first for the night for the Hawks when he marked, played on and scrubbed a breaking ball into the square and through the goal. Lonie would kick St Kilda's third goal in a row, and his fourth for the match after Conor Glass was again penalized for pushing him out in the marking contest and leaving the Hawks just nine points up at three quarter time.

Going into the last quarter there was nothing to lose for St Kilda and plenty on the line in terms of a final eight ladder placing for Hawthorn.  A poor kick from O'Meara at half back was spoiled and fell to Gresham who was able to snap a goal from the top of the goal square. St Kilda pushed and Hawthorn defended desperately for what seemed like ten minutes without a score and numerous contests and turnovers.  When a score came it was a mark denied to Schoenmakers because it did not travel 15 meters, when he did realize and play on his shot was touched for a behind.  Isaac Smiths shot two minutes later also went wide. A late shot from Gresham, which could have won St Kilda the match, went out of bounds on the full.  Hawthorn managed to hold out the St Kilda attack and at the siren were just four points in front.

Hawthorn hold onto their top four spot for now and will try to defend it in Sydney against the Swans in the final Round.  St Kilda will have their September free as they finish well outside the eight and play North Melbourne in the last round. 

ST KILDA  4.4 6.6 10.9 11.10 (76)
HAWTHORN  1.3 7.5 12.6 12.8  (80)

St Kilda: Lonie 4, Membrey 2, Billings, Gresham, Newnes, Paton, Steele
Hawthorn: Gunston 4, McEvoy 2, Breust 2, Burgoyne, Impey, Nash, Worpel

St Kilda: Steele, Lonie, Geary, Ross, Gresham, Steven, Billings
Hawthorn: O'Meara, Gunston, Burgoyne, Mitchell, McEvoy, Worpel

St Kilda: Jake Carlisle (back/personal reasons) replaced in selected side by Sam Gilbert, Geary (concussion)
Hawthorn: Frawley (jarred back)  

Reports: Nil
Umpires: Margetts, Williamson, Glouftsis
Official crowd: 24,795 at Etihad Stadium

Article last changed on Sunday, August 19, 2018 - 4:18 PM EDT

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