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Five talking points: Essendon v St Kilda

Highlights: Essendon v St Kilda The Bombers and Saints clash in round 21

1. Brown's bump ends Saad's night
Essendon speedsters Conor McKenna and Adam Saad were always going to pose problems for St Kilda, which couldn't contain Bulldogs playmaker Jason Johannisen last round, but the Saints didn't have to worry about Saad for long. Midway through the first quarter, the lightning left-footer charged through the centre and handballed to a teammate when St Kilda backman Nathan Brown delivered a stadium-shattering bump that knocked out a completely unaware Saad. It was an act that will be closely scrutinised by the Match Review Officer, but Brown won't have to wait long to find out what sanction he faces with Michael Christian to deliver his decision on Saturday.

 

2. Bombers show courage amid the carnage
In a game they needed to win handsomely to keep their finals pipedream alive, the last thing the Bombers needed was to lose two players in the opening 20 minutes and four by three-quarter-time. Ex-Saints veteran Brendon Goddard suffered what was feared to be a career-ending right knee injury but has been confirmed as a hyperextension. Fellow defender Saad was then concussed to complete a disastrous opening. Late in the second term Kyle Langford hurt his left shoulder but he soon returned to the fray. There was more chaos late in the third quarter when Cale Hooker (knee) and Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) were ruled out for the rest of the contest, meaning the Bombers couldn't rotate anyone in the final term. It was lucky they had already built a sizeable buffer against the struggling Saints.

 

3. Hooker's hook
Regardless of the extent of his knee issue, Hooker might well be set for a stint on the sidelines, courtesy of the MRO. Shortly before he limped from the field, Hooker suffered a brain fade that would have disappointed his coach and teammates. The Bomber big man had his head over the ball when Saint Daniel McKenzie made high contact, resulting in a free kick to Hooker. However, this was reversed when Hooker showed a lack of discipline by taking a little round-arm swing at McKenzie. In Hooker's favour was the fact that McKenzie suffered no ill effects and took the kick, but the Bombers will be nervous.

DONS STAY IN FINALS RACE Full match coverage and stats

4. Armitage's visionary handball
Seasoned Saints onballer David Armitage hasn't been in great touch this season, but you wouldn't have known that in the first half when the 30-year-old amassed 17 possessions, including what might have been the handball of the year. Early in the second term, St Kilda forward Tim Membrey desperately knocked the ball along the ground to Armitage, who, from a stationary position 30 metres from goal, delivered a 25-metre handball that forced speedy teammate Jade Gresham to sprint to space in the goalsquare, where Gresham completed the job. The effort – which would have made handball kings Graham 'Polly' Farmer and Greg 'Diesel' Williams proud – gave St Kilda the lead and, with Essendon two players short, an upset appeared to be brewing.

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5. Seb's century
St Kilda midfielder Seb Ross entered his 100th game fresh from a career-best 40-possession, three-goal performance, and he was even more prolific in another losing side, amassing a personal-best 43 touches – the most recorded in a game between Essendon and St Kilda. The Saints banner declared Ross 'plays like a boss' and the reigning club best and fairest, 25, certainly lived up to that billing. Pity he didn't have enough help. 

 
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs