St Kilda have embarrassed Essendon and intensified pressure on James Hird’s 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 25.12 (162) to 8.4 (52) win.
Essendon’s performance was disappointing in captain Jobe Watson’s 200th game, producing their worst loss to St Kilda in 119 years of league football.
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 at half-time, with the trio combining for just 10 touches when the match was on the line.
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 and Josh Bruce, who led St Kilda’s attack with five goals, troubled the Bombers defence all day.
David Armitage, Jack Steven and Leigh Montagna ran the table in midfield and Dylan Roberton was a driving force from defence.
Having already built a solid lead, Bruce’s effort inside the first minute of the second term set the tone for the afternoon.
James Gwilt, playing against the side that delisted him, showed terrible indecision and was hunted down by Bruce, who kicked a fine running goal – his third in a row.
Mark Baguley showed his frustration by swinging an arm at Jack Lonie in an ugly off-the-ball incident.
The two clashed again shortly after, with Lonie running free into goal only to miss, but the match review panel is unlikely to be as lenient.
The Saints were rampant and 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 goal square to Jack Sinclair’s finish at the other end, no Bomber touched the ball or laid a tackle in a thirty second coast-to-coast goal.
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.
St Kilda slammed on 15 second half goals to three, roaring to an enormous score.