It might be an old adage but, under the bright lights of Friday Night Football and in front of a packed house at Etihad Stadium, the Bombers reminded the Saints and the rest of us that a week is a long time in football. A mere six days after setting the football world alight with a sensational dismantling of Richmond, St Kilda had no answer to the maniacal pressure and effort from an Essendon side intent on keeping their finals hopes alive.
From opening minute to last, Bombers refused to allow their opponent a moment or metre in which to think. With the ball or without it, Essendon completely and utterly outworked a St Kilda side who watched their Top 4 aspirations evaporate in the wake of the Bombers’ onslaught.
Two years after a fraught trade from Essendon to St Kilda, Friday night offered Jake Carlisle his first chance to face his old team. It is fair to say that time hasn’t healed old wounds, with the former Bomber prompting a hostile reaction from his old fans each time he got his hands on the ball.
The state of the match and the frequency of Carlisle’s ball winning did little to dilute the ferocity of the fans’ response. Meant to showcase the supporters’ displeasure, by game’s end it had highlighted the quality of the giant backman’s performance in a losing cause.
Carlisle has been a more than solid contributor for St Kilda in 2017 after missing last season due to suspension. His performances have been on a consistent upward curve and his 11 marks, 19 possession, performance against the Bombers, strongly suggests his absolute best is not far away.
In the aftermath of the defeat, it has become apparent that Saints fans must resign themselves to unceasing media speculation about whether Nick Riewoldt should play on next season. While The Sportress has made their thoughts on this speculation clear previously here, it would appear that our voice is lost in the maelstrom of those who prefer to death ride. Riewoldt is far from the first veteran to suffer from this unwanted media attention, but this fact does not make it any more palatable. A long time admirer of Riewoldt, The Sportress believes that the Saints Champ’s past and current form should allow him the right to decide. At some point he will succumb to father time and his career will have felt like a blink of an eye. For this reason, among many, it bewilders why anyone would spend what little time we have left speculating about the end, rather than savouring the last moments of a Hall of Fame career.
The statistics make for damning reading for St Kilda, despite gaining a slight advantage in the clearance battle the Saints were second to the ball as evident in the fact that Essendon won 66 more possessions. Not only beaten to the ball, the Saints were comprehensively outworked too, Essendon were able to win the tackle count by 18 too. If not for Essendon’s wayward kicking in the early stages of the game, the 61-point final margin may have been a hell of a lot worse.
After briefly dreaming of a Top 4 finish following their thumping victory over Richmond, the Saints now face a vicious dog-fight to qualify for the finals at all. A fortnight on the road against Sydney and Port Adelaide a bitter kicker to a nasty night against the Bombers. The Saints have made large strides in the short time since they hit rock bottom in 2014. Despite this sharp rise, inconsistency still dogs the team. After seeing the ruthless unit that relentlessly hunted the Tigers it was doubly painful to see them meekly surrender under the Bombers’ barrage.
ST KILDA 0.2 2.6 4.11 7.15 (57)
ESSENDON 2.5 6.10 13.12 17.16 (118)
St Kilda: Gresham, Carlisle, Bruce, Riewoldt, Battle, Sinclair, Lonie
Essendon: Daniher 4, Green 2, Bellchambers 2, Zaharakis 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, McKenna, Hurley, Hooker, Colyer, Myers
St Kilda: Savage, Roberton, Carlisle, Steven, Newnes
Essendon: Zaharakis, Daniher, Merrett, Hurley, McGrath, Bellchambers
St Kilda: Gilbert (finger)
Umpires: Margetts, O’Gorman, Nicholls
Official crowd: 47,156 at Etihad Stadium