Fifteen long years since last tasting victory at Princes Park, Round 11, 1991 would prove to be a drought-breaking afternoon for the Saints. Up against that season’s eventual premiers, led by 30 disposals from Nathan Burke and seven goals from Tony Lockett, they would prove themselves a genuine finals contender with a hard fought 26-point victory.
A soft free kick would see Dermott Brereton kick the home-teams first goal before an end-to-end movement, started by Danny Frawley at halfback, would result in Stewart Loewe answering for the Saints. Lockett’s first of the afternoon minutes later would see the first of the afternoon’s 12 lead changes.
In fact the two sides would go goal for goal for the entire first half of the match. Tony Hall would kick the first of his two goals for Hawthorn before spectacular work from Dean Rice would result in Lockett’s second. Darren Jarman, a name that sends chills down Saints fans spines, kicked the hosts ahead again before a Russell Morris spoil proved the catalyst for a Nicky Winmar goal that gave his team a two-point quarter-time lead.
Winmar’s second would follow one from future Saint Dean Anderson that opened the scoring in the second quarter. Gary Ayres would soon wrench the lead back for the Hawks but the visitors would not relent. A rebounding chain from half back saw the ball pass through the hands of Frawley, Burke and Gilbert McAdam before finding its way to Lockett for his third.
The third quarter would see the goal-for-goal nature of the contest change when Hawthorn’s James Morrisey and Glenn Nugent kicked majors either side of the halftime break. With the margin out to a game-high 12 points, Stewart Loewe’s long-range effort kept the Saints in touch. Debutant Jeff Hilton would level the scores with his first career goal, a dribbling shot from 30 metres out that only just evaded a desperate goal-line lunge from Andy Collins. A second for Jarman would give the Hawks their last lead of the match before Winmar, Robert Harvey, and Lockett gave the Saints a stranglehold on the premiership points at the final change.
Hawthorn would ensure they would need to play the game out to the final siren though, with Brereton and Hall kicking two of the first three goals of the quarter. Despite these efforts, they were no match for Plugger who would seal the contest for the Saints with three final quarter majors. The final siren would be accompanied by pandemonium as fans rushed onto the ground to celebrate the drought-breaking 26-point victory with the team. A fitting margin given the 26 visits to Princes Park between victories.