Essendon have held off an outstanding challenge from St Kilda to win their pulsating AFL match by two points.
The Saints blew chances late in the match and the Bombers held on to win 11.16 (82) to 11.14 (80).
Jake Carlisle kicked four goals for the Bombers and Josh Bruce booted five for St Kilda, while Saints midfielder David Armitage had 35 possessions and was best afield.
Essendon trailed by four points midway through the last quarter and were heading into attack when Patrick Ambrose’s handball was intercepted.
The Saints streamed into attack and Adam Schneider marked in front of goal.
But he missed the set shot and the Bombers went coast-to-coast from the kickout, with Travis Colyer launching a blistering run and kicking the goal to put his side ahead.
That was the 11th and final lead change of the match.
Schneider and Jack Lonie then had shots on goal, with Schneider’s snap from in front only managing a behind and Lonie’s going out of bounds.
Essendon then held on for the last couple of minutes.
The Saints had plenty of early chances, but were wayward and trailed by two points at quarter time.
They broke out to a 20-point lead midway through the second term as Bruce kicked two goals.
Essendon broke the five-goal run and hit back with three of their own, reducing the margin to a point at the main break.
The Bombers ramped up their pressure with 21 tackles to 11 and looked ready to take control.
St Kilda had faded dramatically in the last fortnight against Collingwood and Carlton, but this time they held firm.
There were six lead changes in the third term before Jack Lonie goaled on the siren from a free kick to give the Saints a one-point lead at the last break.
Veteran Essendon defender Dustin Fletcher was subbed off in the third term after a knock to the head, but returned later in the term.
Four days short of his 40th birthday, Fletcher was important early in the game when the Bombers’ defence was under plenty of pressure.