St Kilda have destroyed Essendon and intensified pressure on James Hird’s AFL coaching future with a stunning 110-point upset win at Etihad Stadium.
From the first bounce the Saints had the measure of the Bombers, earning a record-breaking 25.12 (162) to 8.4 (52) win.
It was Essendon’s worst loss to St Kilda in the 119 years of league football and the Saints biggest win over a Melbourne-based AFL side in their history.
Hird said his side “stopped playing” in the abysmal showing, which coincided with captain Jobe Watson’s 200th game.
“Our effort and intensity was poor,” Hird said.
“Why they didn’t have effort today is something I’m still scratching my head about and we’ll try and find out pretty quickly.”
The Bombers’ leaders were non-existent, including Watson who in his milestone game played mainly in the forward line, starved of the ball.
He was joined by experienced pair Brendon Goddard and Courtney Dempsey at the bottom of the statistics sheet, with the trio combining for just 19 touches.
While the Bombers’ mid-season slump extended to five straight losses, the triumph was easily Alan Richardson’s finest as Saints coach.
Pint-sized forward Jack Lonie troubled the Bombers’ defence all day, with Josh Bruce kicking five goals and Nick Riewoldt four.
David Armitage, Jack Steven and Leigh Montagna ran the table in midfield and Dylan Roberton was a driving force from defence.
Richardson said the performance pleased him more than the lopsided scoreboard.
“There was a certain way we wanted to play and that was to be really aggressive with the way we attacked,” he said.
“The numbers will suggest we had as dominant a performance as we’ve had in my time here.
“I’m just so pleased for the players that we played four quarters of strong aggressive footy.”
The Saints were rampant all afternoon, with Jack Sinclair’s second-quarter goal exemplifying their day.
When Cale Hooker missed the simplest of set shots, St Kilda carved a path through the heart of the ground with their most incisive goal of the match.
From Roberton in the defensive goal square to Sinclair’s finish at the other end, no Bomber touched the ball or laid a tackle in a thirty second coast-to-coast goal.
Bombers forward Mark Baguley is likely to face the match review panel for collecting Lonie with a swinging arm, before the teenager kicked the goal of the match.
Ten minutes into the second term, it was already party time and Lonie showed as much with a glorious dribbling goal from the pocket.
The Bombers gave themselves a platform for a second-half comeback with the last three goals of the first half but their performance worsened after the break.