St Kilda have survived a huge scare from Essendon, escaping with a thrilling 11-point win at Etihad Stadium.
For long periods of Sunday’s clash the Saints had the air of a side that just expected things to happen for them against the suspension-ravaged, bottom-placed Bombers.
But John Worsfold’s side had all the momentum when they led by seven points midway through the final term before Maverick Weller stepped up with two late goals as St Kilda broke Bomber hearts with a 17.7 (109) to 14.14 (98) win.
Essendon trailed by nine points heading into the final term but appeared destined to snap their 12-game losing streak when Zach Merrett goaled in the 17th minute to extend their lead to seven points.
It had been all the Bombers to that point of the quarter, with Joe Daniher bringing the crowd to their feet with a soaring mark and Mitch Brown booting a brilliant goal in traffic to level the scores.
But the Saints shook off their lethargy to finish the stronger side in front of 25,204 fans.
But make no mistake, Alan Richardson’s side got out of jail.
Essendon blitzed the Saints from the opening bounce – they led the inside 50 count 11-0 at one stage – but managed just 1.2 for all their dominance.
St Kilda eventually found second gear to lead by two goals at the first break, but they struggled to pull away from the gritty Bombers.
Merrett gathered 19 of his 36 possessions in the first half as his side trailed by just 10 points at halftime.
Tim Membrey kept St Kilda in it with four of his five goals coming in the second half, while Jack Steven was enormous with 41 possessions and 12 clearances.
Adam Cooney, Brendon Goddard and James Kelly were mainstays for Essendon but they had plenty of help with Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Darcy Parish and Daniher among the younger players to chip in.