Max Gawn celebrates Narrm's win over Euro-Yroke in R11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SIMON Goodwin has hailed Max Gawn's influence after the ruckman shrugged off a tight calf to lead Narrm to a commanding 38-point win over Euro-Yroke on Sunday.

Gawn passed a late fitness test and needed to convince Goodwin he was fit to play before putting on a clinic in the win that has moved the Demons back into the top four on percentage.

DEMONS v SAINTS Full match coverage and stats

The imposing captain racked up 27 disposals, 10 clearances, seven marks and a goal, but not after a frank conversation with his coach before the game.

"He wasn't in doubt - he just woke up a little bit tight," Goodwin said.

"And we would never take a risk with Max Gawn. If he wasn't right to play, he wouldn't play. We were pretty adamant on that and wanted to make sure there was no risk at all in Max's mind. So we put him through a little test ... and he passed with flying colours.


"He said 'coach, I'm 100 per cent'. I said, 'mate, I'm not playing you'. And he said, 'nope, I'm 100 per cent'. So we played him.

"He played well, and that typifies the leader he is. He knew it was an important week for us to get right and he stepped up.

"He knew the challenge that he had from an individual perspective (opposed to St Kilda's in-form Rowan Marshall) but he also knew what it was for the footy club.

"He rose to the occasion and played accordingly."


While Gawn dominated in the middle, Adam Tomlinson stepped up as a replacement for injured defender Jake Lever and was outstanding alongside Steven May, the pair combining for 23 intercepts.

Goodwin put a spotlight on his side's contest work and ability to defend the ground after they were humbled by West Coast last weekend, and felt they responded well.

"The boys went after that and it was a really pleasing performance right across the board for the whole day," Goodwin said.

"It was really encouraging. We're still a work in progress ... and that's OK, but it was a step forward."


Versatile tall Harrison Petty was substituted out with what Goodwin said was a sprained ankle, but he's confident he will be fit to play Fremantle in Alice Springs next week.

Saints coach Ross Lyon lamented Saints' poor ball use and decision-making, while admitting they fell down defensively and were beaten by the Dees' run on the outside.

The loss left the Saints' (3-8) finals hopes in tatters at the halfway point of the season, after they reached an elimination final last year.

"I feel for our fans and our members, and I just said to our players we need to stick together," Lyon said.

"We've really fallen away a bit, so we've got to go away and assess, keep a cool head, take the heat that comes and stay true to working hard and keeping a safe environment for the players."


The Saints have lost six of their last seven matches, with the only relief in that horror run coming against hapless North Melbourne.

Defeats to Hawthorn, Walyalup and Narrm over the past three weeks have raised all sorts of issues.

"We just got annihilated in the midfield (by the Dockers after half-time), so you can prosecute your own case, but we understand it was about ground position and no supply," Lyon said.

"Hawthorn the week before was about chipping about, not over-using (the ball) and not going to the contest.

"(Against Narrm) we were probably guilty of going to the contest too early."


Lyon noted poor ball use, decision-making and conversion of forward-50 possessions into scores were also among the crucial shortcomings against the Demons, who smashed the Saints with their outside run.

His side conceded a league-best average of 71.6 points a game last season, but that figure has risen to 78.8 - ranked eighth - this year.

It comes with the Saints still ranked in the bottom five for points scored, at a rate of just 71.3 a game.

"(Team defence) is something we were really good at last year (but it has) really fallen away," Lyon said.

"We just had a chat about it with the coaches ... we'll focus on some things that we know we can do well quickly, and then continue to work on the ball use and try to build out of midfield."


Lyon forecast a possible return for Brad Crouch in the clash with West Coast in round 12, after the experienced midfielder racked up 30 disposals for Sandringham in the VFL on Sunday.

Crouch has not played at senior level since hurting a knee in March.

"He's no silver bullet, but it would help," Lyon said.

The Saints have concerns over versatile tall Zaine Cordy, who hurt a knee while playing in the VFL on Sunday.