Cleanliness and composure were hard to find between St Kilda and Essendon on Saturday afternoon, but when it mattered most, it was the latter who came up trumps. 

Jake Stringer’s major from long-range at the 20-minute mark of the final term, which shook Marvel Stadium to its foundations, put his side up for the first time of the day with six minutes to play, and despite some chances from the Saints to pinch it back late, it was the 'Package's' delivery which proved enough for the Bombers to edge out their opposition.

Scrappy, untidy and error-affected football may not want to be the way St Kilda will want to win games this year, and although getting the job done narrowly in games past, it was a combination which - when coupled with a late loss of composure - proved just costly as the Bombers pulled clear late by four points, 10.11 (71) to 9.13 (67).

In an unglamorous match which yielded a combined 153 turnovers, 24 behinds - six of Essendon’s coming in the final term - and a plethora of spilled marks, neither side were able to capitalise on their respective spurts of momentum to break clear of each other until the closing moments.

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After trailing by 11 points at half-time following a bright but wasteful start from the Saints, the Bombers looked ready to punish their rivals earlier and hit the front for the first time of the afternoon after Stringer bagged what he thought was his second major. 

However the goal was cancelled due to his preceding push in the back against Riley Bonner, with a 50-metre penalty to boot allowing Seb Ross to cooly convert and keep the Saints’ noses in front up until the final moments. His subsequent goal looked like it would be enough to keep the Bombers at bay, but they had others ideas.

Ross (28 disposals, six clearances) wound back the clock to end the afternoon as one of his side's more proficient players alongside the ruck efforts of Rowan Marshall (20 disposals, 27 hit-outs), while for Essendon, Nic Martin was everywhere for the Bombers with 27 of his 44 coming from the first half and Zach Merrett putting in a strong 12-disposal final quarter and all-round effectual performance around stoppages.

With both sides missing their key posts in Max King and Peter Wright through respective suspensions, the Saints and Bombers needed to rely on multiple avenues to goal.

Late inclusion Harry Jones had a say on the contest with two majors at important times, while Anthony Caminiti hit the scoreboard when it mattered to close out his first game of the year with two of his own.


Jack Higgins was just as much of a thorn in the side of the Bombers’ defensive end, snaffling three majors to give his side a much-needed leg-up early and take his tally to seven goals from his past two outings.

However it was squandered opportunities in front of goal and heading into attack which littered the afternoon and proved to be the Saints’ demise, culminating in multiple frustrations for both Ross Lyon as the margin tightened up and the game wore on. 

Unlike last week where the Saints' pressure game stood tall and closed out Collingwood's ability to find space, the Bombers' ability to find space - furthered by a 101 uncontested mark count - opened the door for them to flood forward in the final term and bank an important four points.

ESSENDON  3.1  5.3  8.5  10.11 (71)
4.4  6.8  8.12  9.13 (67)

Langford 3, Stringer 3, Jones 2, Duursma, McGrath
St Kilda:
Higgins 3, Caminiti 2, Sinclair, Butler, Owens, Ross

Martin, McGrath, Stringer, Parish, Heppell, Langford, McKay
St Kilda: 
Ross, Marshall, Steele, Wilkie, Higgins, Battle

Essendon: Durham (shoulder), Duursma
St Kilda:

Will Setterfield (knee soreness) replaced by Harry Jones
St Kilda: 

Nick Hind replaced Sam Durham in the third quarter
St Kilda:
Angus Hastie replaced Cooper Sharman at three-quarter time

44,412 at Marvel Stadium