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Match-winning kick against Suns 'unwarranted': Hardwick

Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick says the controversial free kick against defender Mac Andrew that delivered St Kilda's dramatic match-winning goal over the Suns was "unwarranted".

With Gold Coast leading by three points at Marvel Stadium, Andrew was penalised for an off-the-ball hold on Saints spearhead Max King as the pair jostled close to goal late on.

Much to Andrew's dismay, King converted from point-blank range and St Kilda held on to prevail 7.9 (51) to 7.6 (48) in front of 17,992 fans on Saturday night.

"Look, it was clearly in my view, a free kick that was unwarranted," Hardwick said.

"It's tough. Those guys are battling all day. I just think the umpire calls it, that's his job, but unwarranted for mine.

"When two guys are going toe-to-toe, one's grabbing, the other one's grabbing, it's like well, which way do you go?

"He's probably only looking at one person trying to give away the free kick and it's the defender. So that's life."

St Kilda counterpart Ross Lyon refused to weigh in.

"I'd say I've been to grand finals, where I could bang on about free kicks but I never have, good or bad," Lyon said.

"So I'm not here to bang on, good or bad.

"People get kneed in the head, they don't get paid free kicks. Stuff happens. Everything's good 'til it's not, isn't it?"

It spared St Kilda's blushes, mere minutes after Suns skipper Touk Miller escaped Marcus Windhager's tag to give the visitors the lead for the first time after the Saints had dominated much of the game without reward.

"Our inability to cash in was incredibly frustrating and left the door ajar for them," Lyon said.

"It could have gone either way in the end but I would have been devastated if we had have lost that game because I didn't think we should have been in that position."

The Suns (7-6) had the opportunity to cement themselves in the top eight - and sit outside the top four on percentage alone - but they will instead drop out of the eight by the round's end.

St Kilda (5-8) sit 14th, two wins outside the finals places.

While Windhager kept Miller to 14 touches, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (28 disposals) and Jack Sinclair (31 touches) got to work.

Sam Collins worked hard in defence all game for the Suns, while Sam Flanders (42 disposals) continued his prolific form off half-back.

St Kilda suffered an early blow, with defender Dougal Howard forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by veteran Seb Ross.

Across the second and third quarters, the Saints failed to make their dominance count and led by just eight points at the final change.

The Suns kept pressing and finally hit the front for the first time when Miller swooped on a Ned Moyle tap-down and snapped truly.

But King's late goal left the Suns to rue what might have been.

"We let the game slip," Hardwick said.

"We should've, could've but didn't win."