St Kilda coach Alan Richardson’s concerns after a 103-point AFL loss to West Coast were clear.
Contest and pressure.
Richardson asked for an improvement in both areas and the Saints delivered on Sunday, when they kicked clear in the third quarter to defeat Essendon by 46 points.
Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey and Paddy McCartin booted a combined seven goals in the third term at Etihad Stadium, six of them coming on the trot.
“We saw the game as an opportunity to get our season back on track,” Membrey said.
“Last week against West Coast clearly wasn’t the result we wanted, but this time we cracked in and just did the basics well. Contest and pressure.”
Richardson admitted he was unsure what impact the horrible performance in Perth, where the Saints totalled three goals against the Eagles, would have on the side’s confidence.
“You have a performance like that, which has the potential to undermine a bit of belief,” Richardson said.
“The guys had come off … (two) pretty strong performances.
“To then have one that hits you between the eyes … just ‘wow. Where did that come from’.
“You have conversations and train in quite an aggressive manner to hopefully bounce back.”
The Saints smashed Essendon 46-23 in clearances on Sunday, despite Matthew Leuenberger dominating the ruck contests.
“That was a tick,” Richardson said.
“We’ve improved (this season). Our best footy is really competitive against good teams.”
Membrey, who finished with 3.3, suggested the side’s midfielders deserved a lot of praise.
“It was a little bit ugly at the start. We got a lot of entries and just couldn’t capitalise,” he said.
“That was a bit frustrating, but it broke open in that third quarter, we got our run going and got on top.
“The mids really cracked in the whole day. They were able to get first use a lot of the time.”