Saints robbed of glimpse into AFL future

St Kilda were robbed of a glimpse into their AFL future when Paddy McCartin was forced out of Saturday’s pre-season game against North Melbourne.

The No.1 pick in the 2014 national draft only lasted 10 minutes of the 44-point loss in Wangaratta before he suffered hamstring tightness.

Predictably, the Saints benched the key forward for the rest of the game.

It was also no surprise that the Kangaroos, preliminary finalists for the past two years, took control after halftime and beat a young Saints line-up 18.9 (117) to 1.9.10 (73).

Stand-in Saints coach Danny Sexton said with veteran captain Nick Riewoldt not playing, they were looking forward to seeing how McCartin and Josh Bruce combined as key forwards.

Bruce was their leading goalkicker last year and the Saints are planning for McCartin and him to take over in attack once Riewoldt retires.

“The first game of the year, it clearly wasn’t worth risking him, to send him back out there,” Sexton said.

“But he was just a little bit tight in the hamstring.

“We had a really good look at how they worked together last week (in an intra-club game) and it was effective.

“(The injury) was disappointing, but what we saw was in the second quarter, Tommy Lee, who hadn’t really played forward for the last year, went forward and took a couple of marks inside 50.”

North forward Kayne Turner also suffered hamstring tightness in the first term.

But they were the only negatives for the two teams in their first pre-season match.

Mason Wood kicked 4.2 as he tries to break into North’s attack and coach Brad Scott said he could also go into the midfield.

“We’ve trialled him in different positions as well, not just forward, because he’s a very versatile player,” Scott said.

“He’s a bit of a protypical modern-day, endurance athlete footballer.

Former Hawthorn speedster Jed Anderson also showed plenty in his first game for the ‘Roos.

Ryan Clarke, North’s second-round pick in the draft last November, backed up his determination to break into the senior side as quickly as possible with a solid debut hitout.

“Certainly, if he has his way, that will be the case,” Scott said.

“He’s a man in a rush and I really like that.”

With Todd Goldstein not playing, back-up Kangaroos ruckmen Majak Daw and Brandon Preuss pleased Scott with their games.

Saints midfielder Seb Ross had 26 possessions, the most for the game, and Jack Billings was outstanding before he and Jack Steven were rested for the second half.

Scott said it was a solid hitout and Sexton was pleased that his team rallied after North took control in the third term.

The two teams will make wholesale changes for their next NAB Challenge games, with the Saints set to regain Riewoldt and several other veterans.

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