Solid AFL effort boosts young Saints

Adam Schneider aside, St Kilda players have taken plenty of confidence from their narrow AFL loss to Essendon.

The Saints were unlucky to lose to the Bombers by two points on Sunday, with Schneider missing two very gettable shots at goal late in the game.

Midfielder David Armitage said they were devastated post-match, but were taking some encouragement from a solid effort.

The Saints are also confident they will regain captain Nick Riewoldt and fellow veteran Leigh Montagna for next Saturday’s match against the in-form Western Bulldogs.

“It’s as flat as we’ve been after the game this year, because we expected to win,” Armitage said.

“We really feel there’s something building here, especially with that effort.

“Last year compared to this year, it’s the way we’re losing – we feel we’re not far off.

“To get Rooey and Joey in is going to be a massive step forward for us.

“But we have to keep giving that effort.”

Asked what he had said to Schneider, Armitage joked: “Why did you miss those two goals? … no, I didn’t.

“Schneids is obviously very flat.

“After he missed it, I went up to him and said `don’t worry, you’re going to kick them nine out of 10′.

“He’s still really flat … there’s not much you can say to him.”

The Essendon game followed bad fadeouts in the previous two matches against Collingwood and Carlton.

Armitage said the player leadership group sought feedback from younger teammates about what had gone wrong in those games.

“Out on the ground, it’s probably 90 per cent above the shoulders,” he said.

“We had a really good chat last week and the week before about getting off to a good start and then teams, when they put the pressure on, we became a bit fumbly.

“Blokes’ mindsets changed a bit from the first quarter.

“When teams would come (back), they’d think `oh, they’re coming’, instead `how about we put the foot on the throat and really clamp and kick the next goal’.”

While the Saints clearly have missed their captain, Armitage said it was encouraging that they could still kick competitive scores without him.

Josh Bruce starred on Sunday with five goals.

“You can’t help but read `you can’t kick a winning score if Rooey’s not there’,” he said.

“You have blokes like Josh Bruce who pop up and our small forwards – Jack Lonie, Jack Sinclair and Jack Billings.

“Obviously he’s a massive out, but we still do believe we can win without him.”

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