There were horrible scenes in the AFL on Friday night after St Kilda defender Hunter Clark suffered a serious facial injury in his side's win over Carlton.
The 23-year-old broke his nose in a sickening collision with teammate Dan Butler, taking some of the gloss off a vital win.
Clark was taken off on a medicab with just seven minutes remaining in the game, with the Saints grinding out a 14.9 (93) to 10.18 (78) victory in a classic contest at Marvel Stadium.
The former No.7 draft pick has endured a wretched run with injury and the latest setback could sideline him for another significant period.
It was just Clark's third game back after suffering a shoulder injury during the pre-season series.
He suffered a broken jaw in June 2021 after being on the end of a bump from retired Adelaide midfielder David Mackay, which sidelined him for six weeks.
Clark managed to participate in the team song after the game but Saints coach Brett Ratten expects him to miss a number of weeks.
"Hunter's got a broken nose, sort of a compound fracture come through, it's pretty ugly," Ratten said.
"He's had a bad run. He's put his head in some wrong spots and been cleaned up and it doesn't usually happen in the game.
"He's brave, tough, he's done everything and he's probably a player who was down a little bit (against Carlton) but found a way.
"He'll have to get some X-rays and see what's next for him and if there's a remodel of the nose, because it's not in great shape."
Butler was assessed for concussion following the incident but escaped any serious injury and could play against Fremantle next Saturday night.
Commentators and fans were left stunned by the sickening scenes, with Clark and Butler both seen with blood streaming from their faces.
Reporter Rohan Connolly tweeted: “God that head clash looked horrible, seem to be seeing more of them lately, as often teammates as opponents.”
Jon Ralph of the Herald Sun wrote: “Let’s hope that’s only a broken nose for Hunter Clark. Did so much damage to his jaw in that Mackay hit last year.”
That was so hard to watch
— _/˭ Josh (@JADExVZH) July 1, 2022
This season has had so many head clashes between team mates - shocking
— Colleen McClure (@ekc04) July 1, 2022
Not Hunter Clark again 😔
The kid just needs some luck! #AFLBluesSaints
— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) July 1, 2022
Far out that head clash was difficult to watch. #AFLBluesSaints
— Simon Love (@SimoLove) July 1, 2022
That was nasty
— Tay (@TAYT99) July 1, 2022
Be ok Hunter Clark.
Hate seeing things like that.
— Carlton Cheersquad (@CFCCheersquad) July 1, 2022
Wounded Saints snap losing streak in AFL
St Kilda are firmly back in the finals hunt, snapping a three-game losing streak after downing Carlton.
Humbled by consecutive insipid efforts as they dropped out of the top-eight, the desperate Saints responded in ferocious fashion on Friday night by outworking the in-form Blues.
But the result might have come at a significant cost for the Saints after they also lost key defender Dougal Howard to a knee injury in the third quarter.
Ratten fears Howard might have suffered some cartilage damage and the 26-year-old will have scans to determine the extent of the injury.
With sore players on the bench, the Saints rallied as Tim Membrey snapped an extraordinary goal - his fourth - to seal the win with three minutes left.
"It's really pleasing for the players because they've worked so hard during the season," Ratten said.
"They've done a lot of hard work this year and just really pleased to get back on the winners list but play the way we want to play."
Carlton let themselves down with inaccurate kicking at goal and blew an opportunity to consolidate their spot in the top-four.
"We probably throughout the night didn't respect their pressure as much as what we should have," Carlton coach Michael Voss said.
"It was really down to efficiency, I'd like to create another story, but that was it."
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