Injury-plagued veteran Dan Hannebery has marked a successful AFL comeback with a major contribution to St Kilda’s nervous 12-point win over Hawthorn.
Boosted their hopes for the final, the Saints held on to a 10.15 (75) to 9.9 (63) win in an ugly affair at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
They led by 44 points midway through the third term and nearly paid for not stopping the game when Hawthorn threatened to shock with a wave of five goals in the final quarter.
The Hawks, who had only scored one goal until the middle of the third quarter, came back with time on twelve points, but came up short.
St Kilda captain Jack Steele (31 disposals, five clearances) and Brad Crouch (30, nine) led by example in midfield and ruckman Rowan Marshall was influential as the Saints finally improved their season record to 11-8.
They have now won their last two games but face a tough home game with three of the top five teams – Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney – yet to compete for eighth.
Hannebery looks to be in a position to play a part at the business end of the season after making a strong comeback in his first senior game of 2022.
The 31-year-old, who was plagued with soft-tissue injuries during his four years at St Kilda, spent most of the day on a wing, finishing with 27 disposals, five clearances and a goal.
Max King’s quirky shoe was the only thing standing between him and a bag, finishing with 2.5, and Tim Membrey marked his 150th game with a blasting goal from 50 yards.
Hawthorn struggled to find his way to goal until he flipped a switch in the last term and had few winners in the first three quarters.
Jai Newcombe faced plenty of attention from Marcus Windhager, finishing with two goals from 21 disposals, while Finn Maginness did a good job of slowing down Jack Sinclair and Brad Crouch at various stages.
There were few highlights in a messy opening and St Kilda took a six point lead in quarter time after Hannebery scrubbed a left footed goal that got an accidental bounce over a Hawthorn defender guarding the goalfield.
The Hawks posted their lowest first-half score in more than two years — 1.5 (11) kicks from 23 inside-50s — and looked out of place as the Saints scored the first three goals of the second half.
Jack Scrimshaw kicked two goals in the late kickback after being swung forward.