St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes says he had no other option but to collect Geelong youngster Taylor Hunt the way he did in their second-quarter clash at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
In an incident that is sure to be another hotly-debated test case for the match review panel, Hayes rushed in at Hunt who had taken a mark running with the flight of the ball and instigated what appeared to be a clash of heads that left the Cat worse for wear and gave Geelong a 50m penalty.
Hunt was unable to take the kick and left the ground with a bloodied and reportedly broken nose, but he did return to the field of play eventually and Hayes described it as an 'unfortunate' incident.
"It was one of those ones in footy where in hindsight, and you can look at the replay, it looks like there might have been another option," Hayes said after St Kilda's 42-point loss to Geelong.
"But I just saw the footy and accelerated at the footy and (at the) last second saw Hunt at the corner of my eye and by then it was probably too late to do anything else.
"It's just an unfortunate head clash I think and I was just happy that he was okay and right to play on."
Hayes and Hunt weren't the only ones involved in a heavy collision on Friday night.
St Kilda's Rhys Stanley had to be taken to hospital for scans after coming off second best in a courageous aerial battle for the ball with Geelong defender Tom Lonergan.
Stanley had trouble breathing and may have sustained a significant lung injury, but both players had eyes only for the ball before crashlanding to the ground and Saints coach Scott Watters had no issue with the incident that left his young charge in a bad way.
"It was certainly a fair contest, there's no doubt there," Watters said.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said he marvelled at the courage shown by Lonergan, who suffered a life-threatening injury in a similar contest against Melbourne in 2006 that saw him lose a kidney.
"For Tom to run back with the flight like that, given his internal injury, was pretty admirable," Scott said.
But Scott was in a less complimentary mood for the umpiring department for the second week in a row.
This time the Geelong mentor appeared to be frustrated by Steve Johnson's set shot on goal in the first quarter being smothered by an opponent who was a lot closer to the veteran Cat than the usual five-metre protected zone should have ordinarily allowed.
"The umpires have just got to interpret the rules correctly and make sure that everything's followed to the letter," Scott said.
"We'll certainly have a look at it post-game and get clarification if we need it.
"You've got to be five metres away, I'll have a closer look at it."
Meanwhile, St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt appears to have played his last game for the year after Geelong dealt the Saints' finals chances a severe body blow.
Riewoldt made a bold attempt to line up for the clash with the Cats after injuring a tendon behind his knee against Melbourne last week but told ''Triple M'' pre-match that he probably wouldn't play again in 2012 if St Kilda couldn't make the finals.
And given that scenario is all but assured now, Watters was lukewarm on a Riewoldt return this year.
"The priority is Nick's got to get right so we'll assess him throughout this week," Watters said.
"He showed improvement this week but whether he's going to improve enough to be available next week or whether we'll consider him, we'll just have to weigh that up.
"We'll also have a look at, obviously, results over the weekend to see where things sit but if there's any risk at all, Nick won't be playing."As for veteran Geelong pair Paul Chapman and Joel Corey, who came back from calf and hamstring complaints respectively on Friday night, they are both expected to pull up well from the match.