St Kilda put up a dominant display, torching Hawthorn 63-10 at Box Hill. The Hawks started scrambling immediately as Tamara Luke (first minute) and Louise Stephenson (10th minute) suffered early injuries.
The loss of two key position players in addition to shrinking the interchange bench sounded a death knell to the Hawks’ hopes.
With Luke sidelined, St Kilda more than doubled up Hawthorn in the hitout department, 41-19. Saints’ ruck Erin McKinnon registered a whopping 30 hitouts alone.
Meanwhile, Jessica Matin kicked a pair of goals in the first quarter for the Saints as St Kilda drew ahead 27-0 at quarter time.
Hawthorn was more competitive in the second quarter, as Aileen Gilroy kicked the team’s first goal of the game. The goal was extra special as it marked the first goal scored by Hawthorn at home.
Unfortunately, St Kilda lost Jayde Van Dyk during the game with a leg injury. Post-match footage showed injured Hawks Luke and Stephenson standing on either side of Van Dyk, with all three players on crutches.
Stephenson returned momentarily with a strapped ankle in the second quarter but was removed from the game. At half-time, she was wearing a moon boot on the sidelines. Both teams will be sweating over their respective players’ injury status over the coming days.
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St Kilda pushed their advantage in the second half, eager to start 2-0 for the first time in their history. Two player performances in particular will please head coach Nick Dal Santo.
First was that of rebounding defender Bianca Jakobsson who was key in denying Hawthorn from converting when advancing inside 50. Jakobsson collected 21 disposals, including eight intercepts.
In isolation, this statistic may seem insignificant in a blowout match; however, Hawthorn led inside 50 opportunities 32-31.
Secondly, Caitlin Greiser presented an effective target on the forward line for the Saints, marking convincingly and kicking three goals.
The Saints showed it is not reliant on a single player for goals. Instead, the team has a glut of goal-scoring options with Shierlaw, Matin, and Nicola Stevens, the team can add Greiser to the list.
The team recognised the need to improve their inside 50 scoring efficiency in the offseason, and early indications are the Saints have done so successfully.
The question will be whether the Saints can convert this positive start into finals football.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn will take comfort in the performance of their big off-season recruit Tilly Lucas-Rodd, who amassed 21 disposals and a whopping 13 tackles throughout the contest.
Next up for Hawthorn is a tricky fixture against Richmond, while St Kilda face premiership contenders Melbourne.
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