Despite a determined effort, the Saints were unable to steal the Easter chocolates from the high-flying Hawks on Sunday afternoon.
Photography: Anthony Vella
After starting off the game with a bang, the Saints were unable to maintain their perfect start to the season - battling through a feisty second half to eventually fall by 29 points at RSEA Park.
Taking to the field missing both Co-Captains Alexandra Hynes and Tayla Kearns through injury, the Saints remained empowered with a first-minute snag from the in-form Gabriella De Angelis.
Battling the conditions, the Saints remained dominant at stoppages, winning the clearance count 36-28. Opportunity, however, was our biggest setback - gathering 19 inside 50's to their 46.
Jemima Wrigley (6 clearances) led the charge in the middle, with Winnie Laing (8 tackles, 20 disposals, 3 clearances) providing both the run and the heat.
Tessa Boyd (27 disposals, 3 tackles, 5 clearances) was immense down back, with her poise and pressure proving integral within the defensive half.
Olivia Robinson had a successful first outing in the red, white and black, finishing with 6 disposals and 2 tackles.
The Saints were the first to go inside fifty on Sunday with Melanie Bertuna's clearance resulting in a scoring opportunity for De Angelis within the first minute.
De Angelis utilised her power to burst through the stoppage, hammering the ball straight through the middle to pick up where she left off last week. Following a return to the centre, the Saints maintained their early pressure, presenting well to gather multiple intercept marks within the first five minutes.
Wrigley was up and about early, displaying her explosiveness as she dominated the stoppages and followed up with a courageous second-effort smother two minutes later. De Angelis too remained ever-present, laying an important tackle inside fifty which led to a scoring opportunity.
Kim Ebb provided a great run and supporting shepherd for De Angelis moments later, enabling Sera Kaukiono a clear shot on goal - one in which she converted with class.
The Saints' defence began to assert their dominance in the later stages of the quarter, fighting back against the Hawks' momentum to leave the game level as the siren sounded.
Tessa Boyd got to work early in the second term, encouraging the Saints' defence to lift following an important goal-saving mark on the line. Finding another level, Boyd continued the pile on the pressure - laying the tackle of the day during the ninth minute.
Gentile aided Boyd with her strong bodywork and positioning, whilst Ebb and De Angelis continued their involvement in the game with intercept marks of their own.
Jemma Webster began to impact the game, putting her body on the line to accumulate 9 disposals and 2 tackles by the end of the half.
The Saints began the quarter with an injury scare for the game-leading Tessa Boyd, with the Hawks capitalising on her absence to hit the scoreboard. Despite giving away one-too many fifty metre penalties, they were able to settle into the third term and fight back with composure and determination.
After a scoreless second quarter, the Saints found their first of the term through Grace Hodder's centre clearance in the eleventh minute - landing in the hands of Sophie Phillips. Combining with Kayla Ripari, Phillips was able to settle the ball and convert.
Following Phillips' goal, the Saints began to move the ball with speed and confidence whilst placing the burden on the Hawks' defenders.
Phillips' unrelenting pressure - combined with Kaukiono's presence as she pushed up into the middle - enabled the Saints to lock the ball inside the forward fifty. As a result, Ebb was able to put her class on display as she gathered a ground ball, broke away with pace and snapped an impressive goal to make it two in two minutes.
Laing was also impactful in setting the pace and changing the momentum in the lead-up to both goals, showing her strong resolve and class through her tackle work.
After coming back onto the ground, Boyd continued to lead the way in defence with her intercept marking and contested pressure, finishing the third term with a team-high nineteen disposals.
An angsty end to the third spilled over into the final term, beginning with an ever-present tension that resulted in two free kicks for the Saints; their discipline showed immense improvement over the course of the game. As the play calmed down, the Saints' intensity lifted, particularly around the contest. Laing continued to bring the heat with her tackle work whilst Boyd directed traffic down back.
The Saints eventually succumbed to the pressure of the Hawks' defence who continued to forced turnover - ultimately preventing our midfield-forward connection.
Despite digging deep and fighting with determination, the Saints conceded the final two goals to eventually fall by 29 points as the rain set in at Moorabbin.
Final Score: Southern Saints 4.1 (25) defeated by Box Hill Hawks 8.6 (54)
Goals: S. Phillips, G. De Angelis, S. Kaukiono, K. Ebb