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VFL: Paton dynamic again

Justin Cooper  July 30, 2018 11:01 AM

Saints utility Ben Paton was among Sandringham's best to press his case for his senior debut. - St Kilda Saints,Ben Paton,Nathan Freeman,Hugh Goddard,Bailey Rice,Darren Minchington,VFL

Saints utility Ben Paton was among Sandringham's best to press his case for his senior debut.

Our intent and endeavour were pretty strong, but we didn’t take our opportunities.

Ben Paton has continued his impressive run of form in the VFL, being named in the best despite his side’s 31-point defeat at the hands of Box Hill at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

Finishing with 21 disposals and six tackles, the aggressive, in-form utility once again puts his hand up for an AFL debut, along with another young Saint in Nathan Freeman (37 disposals, 13 marks).

In what was the Zebras’ final home game of the season, they conceded the first four goals of the game to Box Hill before finally posting their first major just before quarter time.

Sandringham rued a wasteful 2.6 in the second term, as Chris Newman’s Hawks retained the lead all afternoon.

WATCH: Ben Paton VFL Highlights (Round 16)

With Billy Longer a travelling emergency for the Saints, coach Aaron Hamill was forced to use draft prospect Hayden McLean, but the ex-TAC Cup ruckman was up against it, with the Zebras dominated in the hit-outs (69-15).

Although his side conceded 55 inside-50s for the match, Sandringham head coach Aaron Hamill was pleased with the effort but frustrated by the inability to convert when it mattered.

“Our intent and endeavour were pretty strong, but we didn’t take our opportunities and quality teams like Box Hill make you pay going back the other way, which was frustrating to watch,” Hamill told saints.com.au.

“We were rapt to get Darren Minchington (16 disposals, five tackles) through the game after his injuries this year and Ben Long through 80 minutes of game-time as well.”

The coach was also impressed with the games of Bailey Rice (23 disposals, five marks, six rebound-50s) and utility Hugh Goddard (18 disposals, 10 marks), who both stood up in a defence under relentless pressure.

“Bailey Rice and Hugh Goddard were really strong for us down back. Our defenders have been under some real heat at times this year, but those boys continue to work well together.

“Defensively, Hugh has improved out of sight one-on-one, and he’s been really solid the last six weeks in particular. But today was one of his better games, which is just great for him to get some continuity.”

READ: VFL Preview (Round 17)

Hamill also praised the first-year development of Ben Paton and his flexibility to play different roles through the midfield and at both ends of the ground.

Sandringham returns from their upcoming bye to one of the VFL’s toughest assignments – an away fixture against the Casey Demons at 2pm on Saturday August 11.

Sandringham      1.1         3.7         4.8         6.11 (47)
Box Hill Hawks   4.6         6.8         7.10       11.12 (78)

Goals: Owens 2, Haidon, Freeman, McLean, Nissenbaum
Best: Paton, Rice, Goddard, Noone, Seccull, McLean

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