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Monday Wash-Up: Round 17 v Essendon

Josh Gabelich  July 17, 2017 12:31 PM

AFL 2017 Round 17 - St Kilda v Essendon

St Kilda has fallen out of the top eight after Friday night's loss to Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

What changed in the space of six days?

Less than a week after producing a stunning effort that put the competition on notice, a vastly different St Kilda turned up at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. Saints Coach Alan Richardson labelled the effort as embarrassing on more than one occasion in his post-match press conference, as did Jack Newnes on 3AW in the aftermath. St Kilda will search for answers to why the effort was worlds apart, especially given the importance of the game in the context of their season. The 61-point loss has shuffled St Kilda down the pecking order and out of the top eight. With trips to face Sydney and Port Adelaide in the next fortnight, St Kilda has one of the more difficult routes to September. But after a drought breaking win in Perth three weeks ago, the Saints do travel up to the harbour city with some form on the road.

Pressure goes missing in a big way

Under Alan Richardson’s watch, St Kilda has built their brand around pressure. On Friday night, the Saints registered their worst pressure factor (1.625) of 2017 and the worst of any team in Round 17. What is pressure factor? Pressure points per opportunity to apply pressure. Richardson summed it up by saying, “If you don’t turn up with enormous energy and a willingness to defend, a willingness to work, then you’re going to get embarrassed and that’s what happened.” Despite having a lot more of the ball, Essendon laid 18 more tackles in a low tackling affair. They also amassed 15 more contested possessions, with not one Saint registering double digits for this indicator. Essendon’s midfield completely outplayed the Saints, led by Zach Merrett (37 disposals) and David Zaharakis (32 disposals), who helped the Dons record 17 more inside 50s.

Savage determined to respond for disappointing year

Shane Savage has come back with a point to prove. After playing only once between Round 4 and 15, the dashing defender returned for the suspended Jimmy Webster against Richmond and appears determined to hold onto a spot in St Kilda’s defence. Despite the carnage around him on Friday night, Savage was a picture of calm across half-back. He cut off opposition forays forward (10 intercept possessions) and was damaging going the other way. After hitting the target with all but two of his touches last week, he only wasted one against Essendon, meaning he has hit 50 of 53 disposals since returning. Savage also accumulated 487 metres gained in one of his best performances in a long time. While Webster will return for the trip to Sydney, Savage won’t be the one that misses out.

Carlisle takes another step forward

Joe Daniher might have turned the game on its head and even sat on Jake Carlisle’s head, but the former Bomber still produced arguably his finest performance since crossing to Linen House Centre. While Daniher raced into the lead for the Coleman Medal in the opening half, an under siege Carlisle prevented his former teammate and his former side from inflicting more pain. Carlisle’s hands have gradually returned as the season has unfolded and on Friday night they were back to somewhere near his best. He hauled in 11 marks – five coming from Essendon kicks – and it could have been more had he not been moved forward in the second half to provide the Saints with a marking target in attack. While it was a step backwards for St Kilda, it was a step forward for Carlisle in his first game against his old mob.