Jarman Impey celebrates a goal during round 11, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN won by 116 points last Sunday, but this was bigger and better.

After another week of off-field scrutiny at Hawthorn following the departure of CEO Justin Reeves and amid the ongoing investigation into allegations of historical racism at the club, James Sicily produced a true captain's performance to drag the Hawks over the line to win by 10 points at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The reigning Peter Crimmins Medallist produced the game of his life to lead the Hawks to the 12.16 (88) to 12.6 (78) win, their second in as many weeks.


The game looked over when Dan Butler put St Kilda 20 points up when he kicked the first goal of the final quarter, but the Hawks kicked the next five goals to leave the Saints in their wake.

With less than three minutes left on the clock, Jacob Koschitzke marked and converted to give Sam Mitchell’s side the lead for the first time since the second quarter, before Luke Breust slotted his third of the day in the final minute to quash any hope the Saints had of their own comeback.

But Saturday's win was all about Sicily.


A week after Collingwood skipper Darcy Moore tore Carlton apart from the defence, the Hawthorn captain produced an even better performance to help Hawthorn record back-to-back wins and just a third win of the year. 

The 28-year-old amassed 42 disposals – nine more than his previous best – to go with 21 intercept possessions, 17 contested possessions, 11 score involvements and 628m gained in one of the most dominant displays produced by a defender in 2023.

SAINTS v HAWKS Full match coverage and highlights

Hawthorn’s midfield completely outplayed St Kilda for most of the game. They collected 68 more disposals, 15 more inside 50s and won contested ball by 14. If not for wayward kicking in the first half, they would have led for most of the game, instead of St Kilda.

Jai Newcombe (31 disposals and nine clearances), Will Day (30 disposals and 597 metres gained), Conor Nash (27 disposals and five tackles), Dylan Moore (31 disposals and nine marks) and James Worpel (24 disposals and six clearances) got the job done against a side that would have ended round 11 inside the top-four.

St Kilda heads into the mid-season bye in reflection mode.

They were 8-3 this time last year, but they are in better shape 12 months on. Ross Lyon has reignited the Saints to lead them to 7-4 amid an injury crisis that left them without their most valuable player – Max King – for the first nine rounds of the season.


But Saturday’s loss takes some of the gloss off the start under the boss.

The Saints might lose Hunter Clark in the coming weeks due to a knee injury, but they have been boosted dramatically by the return of King in the past fortnight.

After undergoing a shoulder reconstruction in December, King followed up his four-goal return at Giants Stadium last Sunday with four more goals and a couple of special moments against the Hawks. 

Hawthorn will now head to Adelaide to play Port Adelaide and host Brisbane before they get the week off, while St Kilda will reset ahead of the return of Thursday night football at the SCG in round 13.

Irish rise continues
It might be all about the arrival of Oisin Mullin for Geelong on Saturday, but don’t sleep on the rise of Conor Nash this season. Before the Irishman arrived at Marvel Stadium, his past six weeks had read like this: 30, 27, 26, 26, 28 and 31 disposals. Performances that included defensive efforts on opposition stars. On Saturday the former underage rugby union star collected 27 touches and five tackles, including another monster hit that wouldn’t have looked out of place if he was wearing the green shirt of Ireland.

Conor Nash evades three St Kilda players during round 11, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

So much for 'tanking'
A string of questionable list decisions and patchy performances had many theorising the Hawks were keen to secure the No.1 draft selection, and therefore the services of top draft prospect Harley Reid. But back-to-back wins and a rise in confidence could lead to the Hawks winning as many games as they did last year if they maintain this rise. Some Hawthorn supporters might be disappointed in missing out on the nominal No. 1 pick, but they should be in for an enjoyable second half of the season as the rebuild clicks into another gear.

Sam Mitchell celebrates Hawthorn's win during round 11, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Selection decision
Tim Membrey has been a permanent fixture since crossing to the Saints, but after missing last weekend due to concussion and missing the first month of the season due to knee surgery, the Saints opted to play the key forward at Sandringham instead of as the sub, after leaving him out of the 22 on Thursday night.


ST KILDA          3.2    5.4    11.4    12.6    (78)
2.4    4.10   7.14    12.16  (88)

St Kilda:
King 4, Butler 2, Caminiti, Wood, Phillipou, Crouch, Byrnes, Sharman
Hawthorn: Lewis 3, Breust 3, Moore, Koschitzke, Macdonald, Impey, Butler, Brockman

St Kilda:
King, Crouch, Wanganeen-Milera, Wilkie
Hawthorn: Sicily, Newcombe, Day, Lewis, Moore, Nash

St Kilda:
Clark (knee), Higgins (finger)
Hawthorn: None

St Kilda: 
Cooper Sharman replaced Hunter Clark in the second quarter
 Connor Macdonald replaced Tyler Brockman in the third quarter

Crowd: 32,022 at Marvel Stadium