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ST KILDA fans flooded RSEA Park on Thursday night to see what they hoped would be the Max King show in the Saints' Marsh Community Series clash with Hawthorn.
They didn't get it, with the young key forward promising but much more low-key than he was a week ago when he bagged four goals in an intraclub match.
Instead, they got something possibly better, with the 19-year-old expected to ebb and flow in just his second year of AFL football.
A sterling performance from forward Tim Membrey propelled the Saints to a 17.9 (111) to 13.12 (90) win, with the stand-in skipper at the forefront of a multi-pronged attacking structure.
Membrey booted four goals in the 21-point win and was a marking force, catching almost everything that came his way.
SAINTS IMPRESS Full match coverage
But what made his performance, and the way the Saints won, was the fact there were supporting acts as well, with more – like Matt Parker, who is recovering from ankle surgery – to come back in.
Jack Lonie booted four and Dan Butler showed that while he only kicked one goal, he'll give a fresh avenue and plenty of forward pressure, with Ben Long looking the goods after a shift to half-back.
This all happened without prolific performances from King or the resting ruckman with Rowan Marshall clunking a few late in the game and Paddy Ryder providing a tackling presence as he warmed into things.
Bradley Hill was another shining light, with the three-time premiership player showing just how much impact he'll have in moving the ball with speed and precision.
The Hawks didn't win, and they lost Ben McEvoy to a corked thigh early on, but it wasn't all bad news.
Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell played three quarters before he took to the bench to ice up, with the midfielder winning the first clearance of the game (five overall) and 21 disposals.
Tom Scully also got moving to end with 19, while Jon Patton came in and out of the contest but did enough to show he's more than a handy pick up for the post-Jarryd Roughead era.
And, Isaac Smith kicked a couple with Luke Breust chiming in the second half to end with three, while Jaeger O'Meara played limited minutes in the first half for 10 disposals.
The Saints were missing Jarryn Geary (calf), Dylan Roberton (corked knee), Jimmy Webster (managed), Dan Hannebery (managed) and Zak Jones (wisdom teeth), while Shaun Burgoyne and James Sicily were out for the Hawks.
St Kilda: Bradley Hill was the pick of the Saints' newbies, although he's hard to miss with his trademark speed and flare when he pumps the ball inside 50. His cousin Paddy Ryder showed flashes of his best tap work after starting forward and impressed with bruising tackles on Tom Mitchell and James Worpel in the third quarter. Dan Butler also tackled hard and gave a spark up forward while Dougal Howard was steady in defence despite having to shake off a shoulder stinger from a big collision with Damon Greaves. Max King went quiet after his first quarter goal and Ryan Abbott was solid in the half he played.
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Hawthorn: Sam Frost had a go in his first game as a Hawk and gave them run from defence although he'll want to forget a moment in the first quarter when he was slung to the ground by King and jumped up to remonstrate. Jon Patton started well and provided a strong marking target up forward but took a backseat to Luke Breust after half-time.
Ben Long (FWD, $392,000) Is going to start the season at half-back, where he looks set to get more of the ball than he did up the other end. Has looked at home there all summer and ended with 12 disposals on Thursday night.
Tom Scully (MID, $490,000) We know he can get the ball. With 19 disposals, he presents as a cut-price midfield option that comes with a degree of reliability.
The Saints and Hawks will meet again on Friday, February 28 in a bushfire fundraising match in Morwell before their next Marsh hitouts. Then, the Saints will return to Morwell to play Collingwood on Sunday, March 8 and the Hawks will head to Tasmania to play Melbourne in Launceston on Friday, March 6.
PRE-SEASON FIXTURE Check out your team's Marsh Community Series games
ST KILDA 7.2 9.2 13.6 17.9 (111)
HAWTHORN 5.3 8.8 10.10 13.12 (90)
St Kilda: Lonie 4, Membrey 4, Marshall 2, Kent, King, Gresham, Dunstan, Butler, Clark, Marsh
Hawthorn: Breust 3, Patton 3, Smith 2, Lewis 2, O'Brien, Puopolo, Scully
St Kilda: Membrey, Gresham, Dunstan, Hill, Butler, Lonie
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Smith, Breust, Ceglar, Scully, Patton
St Kilda: Nil
Hawthorn: McEvoy (corked thigh)
Umpires: Gavine, Findlay, Harris, Dore
Official crowd: 8187 at RSEA Park