St Kilda 4.3 9.5 15.6 21.7 (133)
Essendon 3.5 5.6 7.8 8.14 (62)
In a week in which Essendon unveiled its new clash jumper, it was fitting that they produced what was clearly their worst performance of the season.
They were smashed by 71 points, and were out-tackled, out-worked and out-hassled in a one sided contest which was completely dominated by St Kilda.
This was an Essendon performance – including the colours – that coach James Hird would be completely foreign to.
Credit deserves to go to St Kilda however, as they were brilliant. The loss to North Melbourne had highlighted a lack of leg speed from their midfielders, and it appeared that Essendon’s pace was set to stretch them once more. Coach Scott Watters employed the perfect gameplan, as evident from St Kilda winning every quarter of the match.
It started in the centre, but the work of the Saints’ forwards was absolute class. Stephen Milne in his 250th game lead by example, kicking five goals – including a game breaking four in the third quarter – and setting up several shots on goal. Captain Nick Riewoldt had his best game for the season with four goals, and Justin Koschitzke and Beau Wilkes used their height and strength to force uncharacteristic mistakes out of the usually cool headed Dustin Fletcher.
Essendon have been magnificent so far this year, so the loss may just be an aberration, but the real concern comes from the lack of forward structure the ‘Dons exhibited. Stewart Crameri and Michael Hurley and Angus Monfries appear to be set to miss another few weeks to injuries, and the makeshift forward set up they were reduced to on Saturday night was simply not good enough.
Hird will need to find a working system up forward, as with the Bombers facing a tough run home, they may find themselves in danger of falling out of the eight.
3 Dal Santo
St Kilda: Milne 5, Riewoldt 4, Koschitzke 2, Siposs 2, Wilkes 2, Saad 2, Schneider 2, Gilbert, Gram
Essendon: Hille 2, Melksham 2, Carlisle, Hurley, Reimers, Davey
St Kilda: Milne, Dal Santo, Hayes, Riewoldt, Siposs, McEvoy, Simpkin
Essendon: Dempsey, Heppell, Watson, Melksham, Lonergan
St Kilda: Nil
Essendon: Hurley (hamstring), Reimers (concussion)
St Kilda: James Gwilt replaced by Farren Ray in the fourth quarter
Essendon: Michael Hurley (hamstring) replaced by Ricky Dyson in the third quarter
Reports: Justin Koschitzke for rough conduct on Courtenay Dempsey in the third quarter.
Umpires: Stevic, Meredith, Mitchell
Official crowd: 45,838 at Etihad Stadium