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'Pride' on show as Saints put in strong effort

Full post-match: Saints Watch St Kilda's press conference after round 22's match against Hawthorn

IT'S BEEN a hellish season for St Kilda.

Having set their sights on a finals spot at the start of the season, the Saints have won just four games with one to go.

As a result, the heat had been turned up on coach Alan Richardson's job, while speculation around board upheaval is mounting.

On Saturday night against Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium, there was yet another loss, but this one was different.

SAINTS FALL SHORT Full match details and stats

The margin was only four points and to plenty of viewers, including Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, the Saints were the better side on the night.

Falling away in the third term has proven the problem in recent weeks, and threatened to again be an issue when Jack Gunston snapped a goal to extend the Hawks' lead to 24. 

This time though, St Kilda fought back, and Richardson said every individual who ran out contributed to make sure that happened.

"We did speak about pride. I'm not sure whether it was because there were a couple of results prior to our game where (there were) pretty big margins," Richardson said, seemingly referring to Fremantle and Port Adelaide being blown away on Saturday. 

"When you're sitting where we are on the ladder, coming up against a team that's in really good form, we spoke about making sure that we were much stronger for longer than we have been in recent weeks. 

"I think for the first time in a while, we had 22 really strong contributors, and that's pretty important."

"We would've loved to have him out there but that was the right call in the end."

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One who stood up in the premiership quarter was small forward Jack Lonie, slotting three of his four goals.

"He's played some pretty good footy. At times, he's a little bit rushed, for such a talented player," Richardson said.

"He always gives us really good pressure in defence. He was drafted because he could do that, but also because of how clever he was and how he was able to make something out of nothing, and we're starting to see a bit more of that." 

WATCH Alan Richardson's full post match press conference

The Saints' impressive performance was in no small part due to captain Jarryn Geary, who kept brilliant wingman Isaac Smith quiet, and Jack Steele continuing his impressive form, this time keeping Tom Mitchell to just nine touches in the first half.

Geary was concussed in the final term but is expected to face North Melbourne next week.

"Obviously it was a pretty heavy knock, and it's got to be a pretty heavy knock for him to be out of the game. He's a tough guy," Richardson said.

"We'll just have to wait and see. We don't play until Sunday, so we're really optimistic that he'll get up."

Defender Jake Carlisle was a late out after the birth of his son Nash, while also dealing with a back complaint.

He should also face the Roos.

"He's been struggling the last couple of weeks with a back (concern). Given his preparation was significantly compromised, for all the right reasons, it was just going to be too big a risk. He was pretty stiff and sore," Richardson said.