Saints outclass Bombers by 36 points - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints outclass Bombers by 36 points

By Adam Cooper 18/04/2008 11:50:29 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda went from brilliant to brittle and back again in beating Essendon by 36 points in Friday night's AFL game at Telstra Dome.

The Saints followed their best half of the season with a virtual fade-out in the third quarter, but were saved from an inglorious collapse through three telling acts from Stephen Milne before winning 18.15 (123) to 14.3 (87).

St Kilda blitzed the Bombers in the first half, with 12 goals from ten kickers and a rampant midfield, and were eyeing off a percentage booster early in the third, when Justin Koschitzke put them 51 points up.

Essendon then turned the game on its head through the next six goals to cut the deficit to 16 points, giving their supporters hope of what looked unthinkable at half-time.

But Milne went from St Kilda's villain to cool head during the crisis, when he set up the final goal of the third term and then booted two gems in the last quarter.

Milne twice went for glory in the third quarter while Essendon were coming and failed spectacularly, putting a long shot out of bounds when he should have passed and then getting tackled for holding the ball.

But when a third opportunity presented itself, he chipped to Nick Riewoldt, whose goal gave the Saints a 23-point buffer at the final change.

Milne then produced two of his customary snaps in the final quarter to seal the game, although Essendon skipper Matthew Lloyd had the chance to keep his side alive - just - but missed a set shot from 40 metres, that would have made the margin under four goals with enough time left.

The Saints dominated the first half, with Nick Dal Santo, Robert Harvey and Lenny Hayes starring in the midfield, Sam Fisher rebounding beautifully off half-back, Max Hudghton all over the disappointing Lloyd and enough forward options to adequately cover the dropped Fraser Gehrig.

Coach Ross Lyon's only gripe at half-time - with his side 44 points up - would have been bad finishing, as the match should have been over.

But Essendon came good by backing themselves to run with the ball and Andrew Lovett again ignited his side with a goal from a tight angle at full pace.

Patrick Ryder's major 15 minutes later had Essendon eyeing off what would have been a remarkable comeback.

Riewoldt finished with three goals, and their prime movers a stack of the ball between them, while Hudghton kept Lloyd to seven touches and no goals.

Essendon can thank their young midfielders for their fightback, as Bachar Houli was busy and booted two goals, Jobe Watson gathered 28 disposals, while Kyle Reimers did well off half-back and Brent Stanton played well across half-forward.

Lyon was pleased his side responded to criticism after the past two defeats.

"I thought our first quarter reflected what we'd been dishing up but, clearly, to respond in the second quarter where we had 13 shots on goal and the game could have been effectively over if we had of kicked straight," he said.

"But we left the door ajar and they took it in the third, but I thought we regrouped really well and finished the game strongly, so it was really pleasing."

He said Milne "slaughtered" the ball at times in the third quarter, but still did a reasonable job, and also had praise for Hudghton's job on Lloyd.

Essendon coach Matthew Knights was disappointed his side could only enter its attacking zone 39 times in the game, and bemoaned another slow start and inability to produce throughout the match.

"We generated a lot more run in the second half," he said.

"In the first half we just played within ourselves, particularly when we had the ball, not so much around trying to win the ball but when we had the ball we played very stop-start football.

"In the third quarter we shared the ball, we started to get some overlap run and we generated some good inside-50s, but unfortunately it took a half to come and the game was shot by then."

Knights put Lloyd's performance down as an aberration, but said Essendon had to consider other options if their full-forward was well covered.

"Matthew's got a lot of pride in his performance and he'd be as disappointed as anyone at the ground tonight ... he just had one of those nights. Hudghton was outstanding," he said.

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