Rioli, Franklin star as Hawks beat Saints

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    Star forwards Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin combined for 11 goals as Hawthorn scored a vital 35-point AFL win over St Kilda at the MCG.

    The Hawks stormed home in the last term on Saturday night with five goals to one and won 18.15 (123) to 13.10 (88).

    Franklin kicked 5.6 and Rioli, who is mourning the death of his uncle Sebastian, lit up the game in the first half and finished with a game-high six goals.

    Hawthorn are rated as a top-four side, but they only had two wins from their opening five games.

    The alarm bells were ringing after Sydney opened them up in the second half last Sunday for a big win.

    The Saints took it up to them and only trailed by 10 points at the last change, but the Hawks went up a gear in the last term before a disappointing crowd of 42,289.

    Rioli responded to queries about his form with a best-afield performance and his 18 disposals were the most he has had in a game this season.

    Saints key forward Justin Koschitzke, originally named as an emergency, was best for his team with five goals.

    The two sides are now on three wins apiece, but there are major doubts about whether the Saints can make the top eight again this season and they also have two significant injuries after this week.

    Ruckman Ben McEvoy was a late withdrawal after he suffered a knee injury at training this week and he will need surgery on Monday, putting him out of action for four to six weeks.

    Defender Sam Fisher, one of their most important players, was subbed out at halftime with a hamstring injury.

    But the Hawks did not escape unscathed, with captain Luke Hodge clearly struggling with a leg problem for much of the game.

    McEvoy’s absence meant key defender Jason Blake had to go into the ruck and he performed well, matching David Hale.

    But Hawthorn midfielder Jordan Lewis did a superb job on star St Kilda player Nick Dal Santo, restricting him to only 14 disposals in a major win for the Hawks.

    © AAP 2017
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