UNDERDOG St Kilda has stunned Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, with Nick Riewoldt kicking five goals and
veterans Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna leading the club to a famous
Last week the Saints were given a blatant reminder of what a lacklustre effort could produce when the team was smashed by Adelaide.Five talking points: Essendon v St Kilda
On Saturday night, they made sure they didn't make that mistake again, scoring an unlikely 11.15 (81) to 9.11 (65) win, after trailing by three goals at the first change.
The Bombers looked lethargic but the Saints – without key midfielder David Armitage – played with belief and confidence despite a patchy first half.
Their senior players stood up when required with Riewoldt kicking five goals after just one touch in the first quarter, Hayes ending the game with 32 possessions after a quiet start, Montagna picking up 31 touches, and Adam Schneider impressing in his first game for the year.
The veterans inspired their young teammates with Jack Billings and Luke Dunstan providing important first-quarter spark after the Bombers kicked the opening three goals.
Billings, in his second AFL game, kicked two impressive goals including an important one in the fourth quarter that pushed the margin to an unbeatable 28 points.
It is possible last Sunday's Perth clash - played in 33-degree heat - played its part with Essendon and Fremantle both losing on Saturday.
Before the game, Essendon assistant Simon Goodwin told 3AW his players had recovered well from the Dockers' loss despite losing around three kilos in the game.
He also said they felt they could bounce back quickly despite a large number of players, and coach Mark Thompson, falling ill during the week.St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said after the game
the health of the Bombers wasn't something they focused on in their first "22-player performance" for the season.
"I can't really speak for Essendon and where they're at based on their trip," Richardson said.
"There was certainly a bit of noise made about that during the week but we'll only focus on what we did, and given how poor we'd been against Adelaide, we were just really pleased with the way the guys responded
"To get beaten so convincingly and our effort, which has been pretty solid for us for most of our campaign so far had been down so for the guys to respond the way they did, we were just really pleased."
Coach Mark Thompson admitted the Bombers weren't physically or mentally ready
"Everyone probably thought we should have beaten St Kilda - I certainly did - but you need to be able to finish the job and just do it," he said.
"You don't have to play your best football, you don't have to feel in the greater shape. But you just find a way to win because that's what you need to do.
"For a couple of years now, we just don't take it up to our opposition early … we certainly didn't do it tonight."
The first signs of lethargy came in the second quarter. Although it was the type of game where momentum swings weren't taken advantage of by either team early, the Saints appeared to have a dangerous edge.
With Jobe Watson controlling the clearances and winning plenty of the ball, the Bombers stayed in touch despite the Saints staging a three-goal-to-zero second quarter.
Riewoldt, who had the better of Michael Hurley after a slow start, kicked two of his goals as the Saints attacked strongly from half back.
The Bombers' plight was summed up when Michael Hibberd kicked the ball straight to Jarryn Geary from full-back, which gave the defender the goal that levelled the scores for the main break.
Riewoldt's third goal at the 30-second mark of the third term, was followed up by another from Schneider, who ended with 22 touches and two goals.
Suddenly, the Bombers were chasing a two goals and didn't seem to have the legs to get back into the contest.
Heath Hocking hurt his hand and was subbed out, and despite Cale Hooker goaling before the final change, the Saints took a handy 10-point lead into the last break.
The Saints moved 28 points clear in the fourth but two goals to Brent Stanton within a minute of each other provided some nervous moments with the Bombers moved within three straight kicks.
But it was too little too late, with the revitalised and rebuilding Saints claiming their third win in a season that was expected to produce little but heartache.Below: Saints - young and old - celebrate their upset win over Essendon. Picture AFL MediaESSENDON 5.0 5.2 7.7 9.11 (65)ST KILDA 1.6 4.8 8.11 11.15 (81) GOALSEssendon:
Stanton 3, Jetta 2, Melksham 2, Myers, Ryder St Kilda:
Riewoldt 5, Billings 2, Schneider 2, Geary, Montagna BESTEssendon:
Stanton, Watson, Chapman, Myers St Kilda:
Riewoldt, Hayes, Montagna, Newnes, Gwilt, Billings, Ray INJURIESEssendon:
Hocking (hand), Hardingham (leg)St Kilda:
Jason Ashby replaced Heath Hocking (hand) in the third quarterSt Kilda:
Seb Ross replaced Eli Templeton in the fourth quarter Reports
: Nil Umpires
: Fisher, Stevic, Harris Official crowd:
36,041 at Etihad Stadium