Round 14 – Essendon v St. Kilda: Saints achieve perfection against defused Bombers

by Braham Dabscheck

1.10 PM Sunday 5 July

Etihad Stadium


What can one say about this game, other than to express praise for the Saints. The Bombers have long been a bogey side for the Saints. Earlier in the season the Saints lost a close one by 2 points; a game kicked away in the dying seconds of the game. In this second encounter the Saints simply blew the Bombers away, achieving both a record highest score (25.12.162) and a record highest winning margin to boot (and didn’t they?) of 110 points.

This was as close to a perfect game as one will ever see. Everyone played well. The Saints beat the Bombers on the ground, in the air and everywhere. There were only two brief periods when the Bombers were in the game or competitive. The first was mid way through the first quarter to 3-4 minutes before quarter time, when they held the Saints at bay, only trailing by a goal. The Saints then slammed on 3 quick goals at the end of the quarter. The second period was the final minutes of the second quarter when the Bombers kicked 3 of the last 4 goals to only (note the word only) trail by 6 goals at the main break. In the second half the Saints piled on 15 goals to 3; no this is not a misprint.

The Saints had 140 more possessions, won the tackle count 61 to 54, the inside 50s 60 to 37 and had 26 marks inside the 50. Twenty five goals were shared between 13 players. The win was built on unrelenting pressure and harassing of the Bombers who were simply defused all over the ground. The most pleasing part of the win was the fluency with which the Saints moved the ball around the ground with accurate passing by both hand and foot. Some of the kicking to players on the move was breathtaking. In addition, there were very few clangers (I could only count little more than a handful) and muffed opportunities at goal. Sixty inside 50s and 37 score involvements, 25 of which were goals, is success in anyone’s language.

Then there were some outstanding goals. The best undoubtedly was Josh Bruce’s early in the second quarter. His continual pressure on former Saint Jimmy Gwilt eventually resulted in a turnover outside the 50 and Josh turned onto his left peg and landed a long bomb through the two big sticks for a stunning goal. This was only slightly better than the left foot dribbler by the Mighty Midget Jack Lonie from the boundary line parallel to the goals, a la Milney, that brought the house down; well that part populated by Sainters!

This has been a sad week for football, with the untimely death of Phil Walsh. I had brief contact with him at his time at Collingwood when he sought and then transferred to Richmond. I was an expert witness in a case before the Federal Court of Australia which maintained that the then Victorian Football League’s employment rules breached the Trade Practices Act. The case is Phillip Walsh v Victorian Football League [1983] FCA 364. I am an academic who specialises in sports employment law and also appeared as an expert witness in the Foschini case in 1982.

The bringing together of the Collingwood and Hawthorn players organised by their respective coaches Nathan Buckley and Alastair Clarkson in the centre of the MCG after the game on Friday night for a minute’s silence stands out as an iconic moment in the history of the V/AFL. It is second only to St. Kilda’s Nicky Winmar at a game in 1993 against Collingwood at Victoria Park, where after having being racially abused throughout the game, he lifted up his jersey, pointed to his stomach and said ‘I am black, and I’m proud to be black’. The ‘strange’ thing about Nathan Buckley, especially his appearances on ‘AFL 360′ where he seems to be so measured and sensible is that he is having the effect of reducing the antipathy (this word isn’t strong enough!) that the rest of us naturally have against Collingwood.

I found this moment, and that replicated in the Saints’ game moving; the quiet after the game with the absence of the theme song of the winners and the bringing together of opposition players, in the words of Nathan Buckley, recognizing that we are all only flesh and blood. I hope that this is a gesture of respect that players and coaches display towards each other which will continue well into the future.


Essendon   1.0   5.1    7.3    8.4 (52)

St. Kilda     5.3   10.8   17.9  25.12 (162)



Essendon: Hooker 3, Heppell 2, Cooney, Daniher, Hibberd.

St. Kilda: Bruce 5, Riewoldt 4, Membrey 2, Armitage 2, Sinclair 2, Montagna 2, Weller 2, Schneider, Lonie, Newnes, Webster, Dunstan Savage.



Essendon: Heppell, Hibberd, Hooker, McKernan, Gwilt.

St. Kilda: Steven, Armitage, Riewoldt, Roberton, Montagna.


Umpires: Meredith, O’Gorman, Ryan.


Crowd: 38,020.


Our Votes: Steven 3 (St. K), Armitage 2 (St. K), Riewoldt 1 (St. K).



  1. Brad Carr says

    Braham, a great win for your boys, and well told.

    I think this result will have raised the spirits of most of the football world – so thanks, Sainters!. I’m on the other side of the world, but still spent most of Friday & Saturday stunned and distracted by the Phil Walsh news. So when I woke on Sunday, saw this score and promptly pissed myself laughing, it was just the release needed!

    I now see why Hird and Little have gone to such lengths to defend their injections program: their team is rubbish without it! No “supplements”, no Essendon!

  2. Bob Speechley says

    I said to your Japanese scribe Yoshi last week, after the Saints performance against the Bulldogs, that you would win games later in the season. He didn’t have to wait long . Fantastic performance – I’m very impressed with Armitage and Bruce.

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