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AFL Preview: Bombers v Saints

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: Conor McKenna of the Bombers and Jimmy Webster of the Saints compete for the ball during the AFLX match between the St Kilda Saints and the Essendon Bombers at Etihad Stadium on February 16, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
AFL Media previews our clash with the Bombers this Friday night.

Essendon's loss to Hawthorn last week has all but ended its finals hopes. The Bombers played well against the Hawks in patches but couldn't quite catch them despite a final-quarter run of goals. They now need to win their final three games – starting with St Kilda on Friday night at Etihad Stadium – and hope other teams contending for the top eight drop some games if they are to sneak into the finals. John Worsfold's side will rue its start to the season, which looks set to cost it a September berth, but will be expected to comfortably beat the Saints. The Saints got off to a hot start last week against the Western Bulldogs and led by 28 points in the second quarter before falling away to a 35-point loss. Seb Ross was excellent with 40 disposals and three goals, while Jack Billings kicked 1.3 from 27 disposals to get back to some of his better form.

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Friday, August 10, 7:50pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for the AFL's broadcast guide

R17, 2017, Essendon 17.16 (118) d St Kilda 7.15 (57) at Etihad Stadium
R16, 2016, St Kilda 17.7 (109) d Essendon 14.14 (98) at Etihad Stadium
R9, 2016, St Kilda 16.13 (109) d Essendon 9.9 (63) at Etihad Stadium
R14, 2015, St Kilda 25.12 (162) d Essendon 8.4 (52) at Etihad Stadium
R5, 2015, Essendon 11.16 (82) d St Kilda 11.14 (80) at Etihad Stadium


1. Essendon dominated all over the ground when the sides last played, registering more disposals (442 to 376), marks (138 to 90), scoring shots (33 to 22) and inside-50s (61 to 44). David Zaharakis starred with 32 touches and two goals. 

2. Despite last week's result the Bombers have been one of the in-form teams in recent months winning eight of 11 games since round nine. That's the equal best of any side in the competition.

3. St Kilda is the worst clearance team this year, averaging just 33.1 a game. The Bombers are mid-table in this area, equal ninth with an average of 37.1 a game.

4. Neither team has enjoyed the third quarter this season. The Saints are the worst team in the AFL for third terms, being 164 points in arrears across the year for the quarter, while Essendon is ranked the fifth-worst club (conceding 139 points more than they have scored in the period). 

5. The teams have played 23 times at Etihad Stadium and Essendon has been the better side, winning 13 games to 10. The Bombers are 5-2 at Etihad Stadium this season, with the Saints winning two of their 10 games at the venue (plus a draw). 

6. Adam Saad has had an impact for the Bombers in his first season at the club, which has been reflected in the Schick AFL Player Ratings. Saad started the season ranked at No.130 in the competition but has risen to No.95. 

Jake Carlisle. The former Bomber comes up against his old side again, and as one of the Saints' leading performers he will need a big effort if St Kilda is to get over the line. 

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