At a glance:
- Jimmy Webster and Luke Dunstan enjoyed successful returns to competitive football in a scratch match against Essendon after extended stints on the sidelines through injury.
- Jonathon Marsh (five goals) and Logan Austin (four) led the Saints' forward line in the wet conditions.
- Meanwhile, Dan Hannebery is mounting his case to make an immediate return to the senior line-up.
Luke Dunstan and Jimmy Webster have got through their first lot of competitive hit-outs post-injury unscathed after taking on Essendon in a scratch match late last week.
Both Saints caught the eye in the 14v14 affair at Maroochydore Sports Complex, showing no signs of struggle after extended stints on the sidelines.
It’s been an incredibly frustrating spell for the 27-year-old Webster, who added to his luckless run with a hamstring strain in late July as he eyed off his first senior game since Round 8, 2019.
For Dunstan, a torn pectoral muscle in June halted his chances of a senior call-up, with the hard-nosed midfielder getting a run in a practice game between Geelong and Essendon the week before.
The Saints’ latest scratch match comes at an important time of the year as several players, including Dunstan and Webster, look to break into the senior line-up ahead of a potential finals campaign.
An exuberant Jonathon Marsh topped the scorers with five straight goals in the wet and was a robust presence at ground level, while a move up forward for Logan Austin for team balance yielded an unexpected four snags.
The change of ends saw Jake Carlisle, Dylan Roberton, Shane Savage, Daniel McKenzie – floating between the backline and midfield – and Webster make up part of the back six, but with the Sherrin parked in the Saints’ offensive end for majority of proceedings, didn’t have to contend with a deluge of opposition entries.
Jack Bytel and Ryan Byrnes, with Dunstan in tow, were particularly clean around the stoppages in the slippery conditions, while Ryan Abbott stood tall in the ruck against mentee Sam Alabakis.
Meanwhile, draftees Leo Connolly and Jack Bell looked unhampered in the wet, with their respective clean footwork and skill below the knees on show as they took another promising stride in their development.
Matty Parker, Doulton Langlands, Oscar Clavarino and Alabakis all donned the sash to even up the 14v14 contest, while Darragh Joyce joined the group in the second half after Essendon rested one of their players.
Further down the road on the Gold Coast, Dan Hannebery is pushing hard for a senior recall ahead of Friday night’s high stakes battle with Greater Western Sydney.
The 29-year-old, along with Jade Gresham and Jarryd Roughead, will leave the AFL’s quarantine hub on Tuesday afternoon, giving him just three days to train with the group and earn a place in the line-up.
Hannebery was sidelined for an initial three weeks after straining his hamstring during the Saints’ Round 5 clash with Carlton, before re-injuring his hamstring tendon three weeks later and requiring surgery back in Victoria.