St Kilda fans were left horrified after Saints forward Mitch Owens was taken from the ground on a stretcher following a sickening collision with an AFL teammate. Owens had flown for a mark but was knocked out cold when teammate Anthony Caminiti accidentally collected him in the temple with his knee in the second quarter of their win over the GWS Giants in Sydney.
It was a freak hit, with Owens stumbling at the exact moment Caminiti jumped for the ball, accidentally kneeing his teammate in the side of the head with an alarming level of force. Play was stopped for several minutes as trainers attended to Owens, who was loaded onto the stretcher to applause from the Giants crowd.
Fans were waiting impatiently for any news on Owens' condition, and were thrilled to see him emerge on the St Kilda bench after half-time. The 19-year-old will miss next weekend's clash with Hawthorn, before the Saints enjoy the bye in the following week, giving him ample time to recover.
St Kilda coach Ross Lyon said the club planned to take 'no risks' with the young forward. He said Owens had been fortunate that Caminiti's knee had caught him towards the back of his head, rather than flush to the side.
"Theoretically, it might have come at the right time; he'll miss Hawthorn (next week), gets the bye and then he'll hopefully be OK," Lyon said. "It could have been worse; at least it didn't get him frontal, it was more the back (of his head).
"We'll take every precaution and we won't push anything. Hopefully, in three weeks, if he's OK we'll play him. But we'll take no risks with a pretty special young player."
On social media, fans were left horrified by the brutal collision, while Caminiti was consoled by teammates in the aftermath of the shocking accident. The Saints rallied to earn a crucial win on the road despite the incident, claiming a 12-point win over the Giants to improve their record to 7-3.
Awful scenes as young Saints star Mitch Owens is stretchered off following a knee to the head. Fingers crossed he's OK.
📺 Watch #AFLGiantsSaints LIVE on ch. 503 or stream on Kayo: https://t.co/c5Vwhmfd1e
✍️ BLOG https://t.co/Qmm6hNfP0A
🔢 MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/93Aj1fqd4p pic.twitter.com/tkPnUtWFd1
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) May 21, 2023
Scary injury for Mitch Owens, wishing the best 😬 🙏
— Josh Trickey (@josh_trickey) May 21, 2023
Hope Mitch Owens is ok that was horrible hit
— john (@JohnVarelias) May 21, 2023
That is sensational news RE Mitch Owens. Everything as good as it could be.
Back up and about on the bench. Cleared of anything beyond a horrible concussion. Gets a few weeks off now to get himself right. Bye in R12.
— Tim Rosen (@timrosen35) May 21, 2023
Really hope Mitch Owens is Okay, looked nasty and he still hasn’t moved #AFLGiantsSaints
— Roger Sidhom (@Supersidhom) May 21, 2023
— Americans Watching The Footy (@AmericansFooty) May 21, 2023
Oh poor little Mitch Owens, he's such a delightful player to watch. Hoping for a smooth recovery 💜💜
— Loz (@Lozzemarine) May 21, 2023
Saints soaring after Max King's four goal AFL comeback
St Kilda got the crucial victory thanks to four goals from the returning Max King, coming back from a shoulder reconstruction and a hamstring injury as the Saints secured a 13.14 (92) to 12.8 (80) victory on Sunday. With King back as the Saints' focal point their small forwards Jack Higgins (three goals), Dan Butler and Jade Gresham (both two) were also able to run free in a close contest in which the lead changed hands 13 times.
Jack Sinclair (game-high 37 disposals, two goals), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (29) and Bradley Hill (20) were influential in the free-flowing contest, while first-year Saint Liam Stocker (24) was another to impress. "The return of Max King, I just spoke in the rooms, was a credit to an eight-month rehab," Lyon said.
"He had a setback with a hamstring tendon but he never wavered. He got due reward today, which is fantastic and I think he'll just get better and better."
The hard-fought victory entrenches the Saints (7-3) in the top eight, while the Giants (3-7) will rue a missed opportunity after they held the greatest margin of the tense tussle when leading by 13 points in the opening term. Giants key forward Jesse Hogan was a threat in the air throughout and slotted two majors but was off target with a set shot in the dying stages that would have reduced the margin to less than a goal.
GWS skipper Toby Greene also had two goals on his return from a stint on the sidelines, while Brent Daniels also lit up the forward half with 23 disposals and two goals. The Giants led by four points at the first change and the scores were level at the main break after the lead had changed hands eight times in an even opening half.
The tight contest continued through the third term as the lead changed three more times, as the Saints took a three-point advantage into the last quarter before holding on late in the game. The Saints face Hawthorn on Saturday, while the Giants head to Geelong to take on the reigning premiers later the same day.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.