St Kilda has accounted for an undermanned Essendon by 35 points at the Gabba to reclaim its standing in the top-four, albeit for possibly a few hours.
The Saints got the response they were after following Monday’s loss to Geelong, but rarely had to shift gears – even after heavy traffic saw them arrive late at the ground – as the 10.8 (68) to 5.3 (33) result added another hurdle to the Bombers’ finals hopes.
Most of the scoreboard damage was inflicted in the opening half, with Max King slotting two of his three goals in the opening term.
SAINTS MATCH CENTRE: View all stats, news and videos from Round 12
The No. 12 could have pocketed four first-quarter majors, but was pinged for holding the ball in the goal square as he eyed off his third in the opening minutes.
Paddy Ryder was close to best-on-ground after being managed last week, notching up 10 disposals, 18 hit-outs, three clearances and a goal to allow milestone man Zak Jones (26 disposals, five clearances), Jack Steele (21 disposals, six clearances) and Jack Billings (23 disposals, four inside-50s) to work their way on top of the midfield.
Bradley Hill's run-and-carry was also on full display throughout the match, finishing his Sunday afternoon with 17 disposals and an equal game-high 467 metres gained.
Rowan Marshall and Josh Battle controlled the airwaves with a combined 17 marks and 11 intercepts, while Nick Coffield was unwavering down back through his 19 disposals and 10 marks.
Essendon mids Dylan Shiel (29 disposals), Darcy Parish (28), Zach Merrett (24) and Andrew McGrath (23) racked up the numbers, but had significantly less impact on the contest as the match slowed up in the second half.
The Saints held a 22-point lead at the major break, with their clean use allowing them to hold the Bombers to two goals.
Despite slotting the opening pair of the third term to draw within three goals, Ryder snuffed out the resistance with one of his own to keep the Saints in front for the entirety of proceedings.
It wasn't a clean dispatch as seen in previous weeks, but the Saints nevertheless rolled up the sleeves to get over the line.
Slow movement coming out of defence prevented the Bombers from threatening their opposition's scoreboard ascendancy, with Brett Ratten's men able to set up behind the play and capitalise on the subsequent turnovers.
The Saints were down one rotation after quarter-time, with young defender Ben Paton ruled out with concussion after an accidental head clash to Bomber Dylan Clarke's knee.
St Kilda will be back at the Gabba next Sunday to face Brisbane in Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, while Essendon will head up north in the landmark Dreamtime in Darwin on Saturday night.
ST KILDA 4.4 7.5 9.5 10.8 (68)
ESSENDON 1.0 2.0 4.1 5.3 (33)
St Kilda: King 3, Membrey 2, Hind, Battle, Butler, Ryder, Lonie
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti, Begley, Saad, Townsend, Langford
St Kilda: Ryder, Battle, Coffield, Steele, Jones, Marshall, Hill, Billings
Essendon: Parish, Shiel, Hurley, Ridley, McGrath, Saad
St Kilda: Paton (concussion)