St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has again leapt to Brad Hill’s defence after the out-of-form speedster was blanketed in a scrappy 20-point win over North Melbourne.
The former wingman was deployed in his new role at half-back at Marvel Stadium on Saturday and got tagged by Kangaroos youngster Bailey Scott.
Hill had three disposals to quarter-time and went missing during the second and third terms before being pushed up the ground late in the match.
He finished with six disposals, while Scott had seven to three-quarter time and finished with 14.
“I thought some of (Hill’s) work to take two-for-ones and try to help out a little bit was pretty good,” Ratten said post-match.
“He tried to assist others and, yeah, he got sat on.
“Scott didn’t even want to try and touch the ball really and just made it a sole focus with that.
“At the end of the day we were winning, so do we move Hilly and put him somewhere else?
“He was helping our team defence even though he wasn’t getting the ball a lot, but he’s got higher standards than what he achieved tonight and we’ll keep pushing for that.”
Ratten said Hill had been moved to half-back because of team needs, rather than to help the player find form.
But he said the Saints need to help the former Hawthorn and Fremantle wingman Hill rekindle the performances that made him a star in previous seasons.
“We’ve got to try and tap in to how we can bring him into the game,” Ratten said.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, Hilly only had six touches’, but he should’ve got it four times just with handball receives but we didn’t give it to him.
“Especially in the last quarter I thought he was in some really good spots but we chose not to.”
North Melbourne coach David Noble was thrilled with 20-year-old Scott’s performance against a far more experienced opponent.
“Bailey was outstanding,” Noble said.
“We forced them to move Hilly in the end … it was a credit to Bailey.
“It was the first role as a defensive forward that he’s played for us and I thought he executed it to an absolute tee.”