A sizzling on-ball showing from Liam Henry coupled with a four-goal performance from Max King has offered a taste of what could come as St Kilda sharpens up ahead of next week’s match simulation against Essendon.

After starting the 20 minutes of the intense hit-out up forward, the dynamic Henry moved into the engine room with immediate impact, adding an enticing blend of pace and pop through the middle before putting the cherry on top in the final seconds to add a goal to his name.

Henry was joined at centre bounce by Jack Steele, Marcus Windhager and ruckman Rowan Marshall in the hour-long match simulation, who spent the second term alternating as a key forward alongside the similarly noteworthy Mitch Owens.


Marshall’s prominent presence in the ruck contests provided plenty of promise as he looks to back up last season’s campaign which earned him selection in the All-Australian squad and a podium finish at the Trevor Barker Award, using his extraction skills and accomplished spread from stoppage to allow the likes of Steele, Windhager and Mattaes Phillipou to thrive on-ball.

Phillipou formed part of the starting midfield trio before being swung up forward to bag three majors, while King appeared strong aerially and held onto everything that came his way to finish with a leading four.

King, Phillipou, Owens and Anthony Caminiti all converted majors in the opening eight minutes of play, however Wanganeen-Milera still managed to accrue plenty of possessions early as the leading distributor off half-back.

Wanganeen-Milera’s increased use out of defence - coming as a result of Jack Sinclair dealing with calf awareness - facilitated the sharp skillset of wingmen Bradley Hill, Mason Wood and first-year Darcy Wilson to drive the Saints into attack, with the latter showing several moments of composure with exactly one month until St Kilda’s season opener against Geelong.

The silky No. 7 also had impact further up the ground, executing a strong rundown tackle in the dying seconds of the first stanza to earn a shot on goal which narrowly missed.

Led by All-Australian Callum Wilkie and Dougal Howard, the Saints’ defence held sway against the opposition’s charges before being tasked with reigning in the key trio of King, Owens and Cooper Sharman in the final third.

Pre-season draftee Riley Bonner showed several clean moments in defence to potentially put himself in the frame for an early season appearance, while Tim Membrey added another consistent display to his name as he builds towards a strong 2024 and retrench himself as a focal point of the Saints’ offensive.

Paddy Dow (bruised knee) completed recovery at the Danny Frawley Centre alongside Sinclair, while Dan Butler (ankle), Jack Hayes (knee) and Hunter Clark (concussion, eye socket) completed laps as they close in on respective returns to training.

St Kilda will turn its attention towards next Friday’s match simulation against Essendon at RSEA Park, before setting its sights onto the following Sunday’s AAMI Community Series game against North Melbourne, also held in Moorabbin.

King 4, Phillipou 3, Owens, Henry, Hotton, Higgins, Marshall, Caminiti, Sharman, Collard, Hipwell (Sandringham)