ESSENDON has kickstarted its AFL season and left a listless St Kilda in their wake in a stunning 75-point thrashing at Marvel Stadium.
Heavy underdogs heading into Saturday’s game, the Bombers ran riot for a thumping 22.11 (143) to 9.14 (68) victory.
The Bombers were coming off two losses and injuries to Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Sam Draper, while skipper Dyson Heppell was also sidelined.
But in his first game for the year Jake Stringer was at his explosive best – setting up the victory with a stunning four-goal first half, while Darcy Parish (34 disposals) and Zach Merrett (34 disposals) were superb through the midfield.
Cale Hooker snagged five goals, while Jordan Ridley (35 disposals, 10 marks) was commanding in defence and draftee Nik Cox impressed all day.
It was a horror day out for the Saints who, bar skipper Jack Steele (35 disposals) were beaten on all fronts and lost gun midfielder Jade Gresham to a suspected achilles injury in the second quarter.
The Bombers were frenetic from the opening bounce, with relentless pressure and youthful enthusiasm coming to the fore.
Stringer started in the middle with Merrett and Parish but pushed forward to get Essendon off the mark in the opening minute.
He then set up Cox to snap Essendon’s second and the Bombers kicked on from there – taking a 19-point lead into quarter-time.
St Kilda’s day went from bad to worse when Gresham had to be helped off the field by trainers in the second quarter, replaced immediately by medical substitute Ben Long.
Meanwhile, the Bombers booted six goals – including three from Stringer – to St Kilda’s one for the quarter to take a 49-point lead into the main break.
Essendon activated medical substitute Tom Cutler in the third quarter for Mason Redman (hamstring) and while they eased off, still extended their lead to 61 points at the final change.
They then added another six in the last term, condemning the Saints to a 1-2 start.
(C) AAP 2021
ESSENDON 6.4 12.6 16.10 22.11 (143)
ST KILDA 3.3 4.5 6.9 9.14 (68)
Goals: Essendon: C Hooker 5 J Stringer 4 A McDonald-Tipungwuti 3 A Waterman 2 H Jones 2 W Snelling 2 A McGrath D Smith M Redman N Cox. St Kilda: J Higgins 3 J Billings 2 B Crouch J Steele M King T Membrey.
Umpires: Leigh Fisher, Nick Brown, Hayden Gavine.
Venue: Marvel Stadium.