St Kilda's finals hopes remain alive after it kicked its highest score of the season in a 29-point victory over a hot-and-cold Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium.
A powerful first quarter and a five-goal blitz to open the final term paved the way for the Saints' 11th victory of the season as they moved to fifth on the ladder.
But the 19.8 (122) to 14.9 (93) triumph didn't come without a serious scare, as Hawthorn charged from 42 points down early in the second quarter.
An old-school spray from Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell following St Kilda's 9.2 first quarter – the Saints' best term of the season – kicked the young Hawks into gear.
After being embarrassed early, Hawthorn's midfield, led by James Worpel and Jai Newcombe, reduced the margin to 11 points at three-quarter time.
But St Kilda's early intensity returned in the last term with its season on the line as Brad Crouch (32 disposals, three goals), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (33, one) and Dan Butler (four goals) performed magnificently.
For Hawthorn, gun forward Luke Breust was at his dangerous best with an equal career-best six goals to take his season tally to 39.
The result was welcome relief for the Saints, who were upset by the rebuilding Hawthorn early this campaign, triggering a mid-season collapse in form.
St Kilda has a tricky last month as it attempts to play finals for just the second time since 2011, facing Carlton, Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane.
The Saints will likely need to win at least two of those matches to be assured of finishing inside the top eight.
St Kilda midfielder Zak Jones' day finished early after he was subbed out in the first quarter with a knee injury.
It was only Jones' fourth game of the season after he battled Achilles and quad issues.
In a further injury setback for the Saints, Cooper Sharman finished the match with ice on his hamstring.
Young St Kilda forward Anthony Caminiti was reported after lashing out at some extra attention from Hawthorn skipper James Sicily in the third quarter.
Saints, Sharman work hard to quieten Sicily
James Sicily produced an enormous performance when the Hawks shocked the Saints in round 11. But St Kilda worked hard to quell the Hawthorn captain's influence this time around and it worked, with Cooper Sharman doing most of the hard work, especially in the first quarter as the Saints ran rampant. Sicily finished with 26 disposals and seven marks plus eight intercept possessions, but his influence was lessened.
Frost brain fade hurts Hawks
Just as the Hawks were mounting a charge early in the third quarter, closing to within 19 points, Sicily was awarded a free kick in his defensive 50 for a hold. But before he could take his kick, Sam Frost knocked Dan Butler over, leading to a free being awarded to the Saints forward. Butler converted and Hunter Clark kicked another soon after, killing the Hawks' momentum.
Hawk shows promise on debut
Taken in the AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, Brandon Ryan got his chance for the Hawks on Sunday. The forward showed plenty of promising signs with his ability to compete and finished with eight disposals and five marks (including two contested). He also kicked a nice goal on debut.
HAWTHORN 3.1 6.4 12.6 14.9 (93)
ST KILDA 9.2 11.3 14.5 19.8 (122)
Hawthorn: Breust 6, Wingard 2, Lewis 2, Day 2, Ryan, Moore
St Kilda: Butler 4, Crouch 3, Sharman 2, Higgins 2, Caminiti 2, Wood, Wanganeen-Milera, Marshall, Gresham, Cordy, Clark
Hawthorn: Breust, Day, Worpel, Newcombe, Wingard
St Kilda: Crouch, Butler, Steele, Wood, Sinclair, Wanganeen-Milera
St Kilda: Jones (knee), Sharman (leg)
Hawthorn: James Blanck (replaced Seamus Mitchell in second quarter)
St Kilda: Jade Gresham (replaced Zak Jones in first quarter)
Crowd: 22,769 at Marvel Stadium