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Saints-Lions match canned in waterlogged Mackay


St Kilda’s AFL pre-season weather curse has struck again, with their NAB Challenge clash against Brisbane in Mackay yesterday scrapped due to torrential rain.

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Ex-cyclone Winston has drenched the region throughout most of the last week, making conditions at a waterlogged Harrup Park unplayable and dangerous.

Large puddles had formed on the playing surface and another heavy downpour around an hour before the scheduled start time left the AFL with no choice but to call the match off, both sides also unwilling to play under the circumstances.

It’s not the first time the Saints have had a pre-season clash scrapped because of wet weather – back in 2012, they were awarded a NAB Cup victory after Essendon’s charter plane was unable to land safely in flood-affected Wangaratta.

The match will not be rescheduled, robbing the Lions and the Saints of valuable pre-season match practice, despite reports the clubs had made contingency plans to stage the match in Brisbane on Monday.

“When we got here we wanted to play, we obviously haven’t had a hitout, most of our senior boys,” Lions captain Tom Rockliff said.

“But unfortunately the ground in a couple of areas was not real safe so common sense prevailed in the end.

“You wouldn’t want to see someone do their knee or ankle on that, especially in the NAB Challenge.

“That’s footy sometimes, that’s north Queensland – I think the AFL [also] had the heat policy in place earlier on today.”

Brisbane was set to field a strong side, including recruit Ryan Bastinac, who is yet to make an appearance for the Lions after his switch from North Melbourne.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Justin Leppitsch said.

“Some of our better players were coming back today… we rested 12 last week and they probably only get the one hitout, this Sunday at Metricon [against GWS].”

St Kilda will turn their attention to their final pre-season assignment against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

“It compromises our preparation a little. It’s a bit unfortunate but I think the AFL made a smart decision,” said Saints assistant coach Adam Kingsley, who was to take the reins as senior coach from Alan Richardson for the match.

Earlier, Melbourne skipper Nathan Jones steered the Demons to a come-from-behind 12-point win against a young Western Bulldogs side.

In his first game since recovering from off-season neck surgery, Jones gathered 21 possessions and kicked a late goal to put his side in front for good – 0.10.12 (72) to 1.7.9 (60) – at Highgate Reserve in Craigieburn.

The Demons trailed for most of the day in blustery conditions, but overcame a three-goal three-quarter time deficit with the aid of a stiff breeze to record their second win of the NAB Challenge, after beating Port in a similar come-from-behind effort the previous week.


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