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St Kilda have held on for an important 12-point win over Hawthorn as fit-again veteran Dan Hannebery gathered 27 disposals in his first game of the AFL season.
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has demanded critics show his AFL side more respect after they survived a late scare from Hawthorn to improve their finals chances with a 12-point win.
Locked in a battle for eighth spot, the Saints looked home at Marvel Stadium on Saturday when they kicked the first three goals of the second half to skate 44 points clear.
But the Hawks, who had managed just one goal to that point, kicked eight of the last nine goals of the game and had enough time left at the end to pull off a miraculous comeback.
A wasteful St Kilda kicked 1.5 in the final term and ultimately held on for a 10.15 (75) to 9.9 (63) win but were left facing questions about the manner of victory in a scrappy affair.
Ratten claimed the Saints are an "easy target" for criticism.
"Every time we speak to somebody we're not going so well, we don't do this, we don't do that ... we won the game of footy," Ratten told reporters post-match.
"We didn't play the game for four quarters how we wanted to (but) we took four points.
"We won contested ball, we didn't win the inside-50s, we had 25 shots at goal.
"Everyone can keep looking at how negative the Saints are and what the Saints are doing but we won a game of footy.
"It would be nice for people to sort of say, 'Yeah, well done,' for a change."
St Kilda captain Jack Steele (31 disposals, five clearances) and Brad Crouch (30, nine) led by example in the midfield and ruckman Rowan Marshall was influential as the Saints improved their season record to 11-8.
They have now won two consecutive games but face a tough run home with matches against three of the top five teams - Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney - left to play in their battle for eighth spot.
Injury-plagued veteran Dan Hannebery looks capable of playing a role at the business end of the season after a strong return in his first AFL game of 2022, finishing with 27 disposals, five clearances and a goal.
Max King's wayward boot was the only thing that stood between him and a bag as he kicked 2.5.
St Kilda dominated the contested game and stifled Hawthorn's ball movement early, restricting the Hawks to their lowest first-half score of the year - 1.5 (11).
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell was forced to shuffle the magnets after losing Josh Morris (shoulder), Mitch Lewis (knee) and Jacob Koschitzke (corked thigh) to injuries.
Jack Scrimshaw was swung forward and booted two late goals in the fightback.
"The game should've been put to bed by half-time," Mitchell said.
"I thought they were the far better side and they missed some opportunities in front of goal.
"When you get beaten by that margin in the contest, which was a key focus going into the game, we just couldn't get it done.
"We gave ourselves no chance really in the first half."