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Bombers power past Saints

A battered Essendon has powered to a 43-point victory and kept its slim finals hopes alive against St Kilda on Friday night. - St Kilda Saints,Essendon Bombers
A battered Essendon has powered to a 43-point victory and kept its slim finals hopes alive against St Kilda on Friday night.

A battered Essendon has powered to a 43-point victory and kept its slim finals hopes alive against St Kilda on Friday night at Etihad Stadium despite having no fit players on the bench in the final term.

Brendon Goddard was the first to be ruled out after hyperextending his right knee when he landed awkwardly in a marking contest during the first quarter. The 33-year-old's worries will be compounded with his contract expiring at season's end.

Meanwhile, Saints defender Nathan Brown is set to come under scrutiny from Match Review Officer Michael Christian after a late bump on Adam Saad, leaving the speedy Bomber concussed and needing to be stretchered off the ground, not long after the Goddard injury.

They were far from the only issues, with Orazio Fantasia (left hamstring) and Cale Hooker (right knee) not taking to the field in the last term

St Kilda started competitively, but a disappointing second half saw it fall away in a performance that will heap more pressure on coach Alan Richardson as Essendon won, 18.14 (122) to 11.13 (79).

The Bombers boosted their percentage by 2.5 points but almost certainly need to win their remaining matches to have any chance in September calculations.

In a fiery game that saw multiple scuffles break out, Essendon had captain Dyson Heppell and silky left-footer Zach Merrett in form, while Devon Smith's effort and intensity were obvious.

Nathan Freeman slotted the first goal of his career in the second quarter, 1,724 days after he was drafted, much to the delight of his teammates.


However, that was followed by five-straight Essendon goals in a flurry before the main break that would have had Richardson tearing his hair out as the Bombers split the contest wide open.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti slotted the final two of that term, before he went on to finish with five straight.

In his 100th game, Seb Ross tried hard in the midfield and racked up 43 disposals, while Jack Steele continued his impressive second half of the season.

Ruckman Lewis Pierce lined up in his first match for more than two years and showed he is worth persisting with, while debutant Ben Paton was relatively quiet, but like Freeman, managed to boot his first career goal.

A swinging right arm from Hooker on Daniel McKenzie in the third term will likely be looked at by Christian.


Essendon: A hyperextended right knee for Goddard in the first quarter ruled him out of the game. Not long after that, Saad was on the receiving end of a big bump from Brown and was stretchered off with concussion. In the second term, Kyle Langford seemed to cop a nasty left shoulder injury but he returned to the ground, while Cale Hooker went down to the rooms in the third quarter with a right knee complaint and didn't return. Blistering forward Orazio Fantasia had a left hamstring issue and finished the match with ice on the muscle.

St Kilda: Backman Bailey Rice had his right thumb assessed in the third term but played the game out.

Essendon has a huge clash next Friday night as it clings on to its faint finals hopes, taking on reigning premiers Richmond at the MCG, where the Tigers have won 19 straight games. Meanwhile, St Kilda will be at Etihad Stadium the following night as it aims to turn around its form and disrupt Hawthorn's finals plans.

      5.3   10.8    14.13   18.14   (122)                  

ST KILDA         4.4   6.8      7.10     11.13   (79)          


Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 5, Fantasia 2, Stringer 2, Myers 2, Langford 2, Heppell, Francis, Hooker, McKenna, Smith

St Kilda: Billings 2, Gresham 2, Lonie 2, Freeman, Newnes, Long, Marshall, Paton


Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, McGrath, McKenna, Myers, Heppell

St Kilda: Ross, Steele, Armitage, Billings 


Essendon: Goddard (knee), Saad (concussion), Hooker (knee), Fantasia (hamstring), Langford (shoulder)

St Kilda: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Deboy, Pannell, Mollison

Official crowd: 37,483 at Etihad Stadium

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