Ratten: Hill criticism had been unfair

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten was rapt with the way Bradley Hill bounced back from a disappointing run of form, arguing that some of the criticism directed towards the wingman in recent weeks had been unfair.

After being thrashed by Richmond and Port Adelaide, the Saints breathed life into their season by downing Hawthorn by 69 points at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

Bradley Hill gets a kick away for St Kilda in their win over Hawthorn.Credit:Getty Images

“The most pleasing things was not about getting the ball but about what they were doing for each other, that was the real pleasing aspect to our game. The care for each other and the desperation and the little things, it actually made other players better,” Ratten said after the game.

Having been troubled last week by an Achilles issue, Hill was back to close to his best, starring with 27 disposals in the romp against his former side.

But it wasn’t Hill’s offence that particularly pleased Ratten.

“I thought he was very good. I thought some of his defensive acts were outstanding. That smother early in the game, that was a real sign how invested he is. He’s copped some criticism, and I think sometimes unfairly. He’s been working extremely hard, but for him to bounce back tonight was great,” Ratten said.

Jack Gunston is tackled by Paddy Ryder.Credit:Getty Images

Returning ruckman Paddy Ryder was a key contributor for the Saints, with Ratten optimistic they would not need to rest the veteran in the coming weeks despite his interrupted pre-season.

While the Hawks actually entered the game with more games’ experience on average than the Saints in their respective 22s, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said the loss of experienced trio Chad Wingard (soreness), Jaeger O’Meara (soreness) and Shaun Burgoyne (ankle) had been costly.

“We’re disappointed when you lose by 10 goals but you’ve got to give credit to the opposition, they were pretty good,” Clarkson said.

“We lowered our colours to a good side. We lowered our colours to a really experienced and strong St Kilda side in that space.

“They were right across the board, more experienced, older, stronger in the contest.”

Clarkson said O’Meara and Wingard should return to face West Coast next week but that Burgoyne was unlikely.

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