Bombers star Stringer steps up late to sink St Kilda

Oliver Caffrey |

Essendon’s Jake Stringer (right) interacts with the crowd after kicking a goal against St Kilda.
Essendon’s Jake Stringer (right) interacts with the crowd after kicking a goal against St Kilda.

Essendon coach Brad Scott has hailed Jake Stringer for turning his “off-field life” around after the dynamic forward sunk St Kilda to give the Bombers a gritty four-point win.

The off-contract star proved to be the hero at Marvel Stadium, launching a goal from outside 50 to put Essendon in front for the first time in Saturday’s contest with six minutes left.

The Saints tired as the game went on and were unable to respond, as Essendon won 10.11 (71) to 9.13 (67). 

St Kilda youngster Mattaes Phillipou blazed away with a minute to go, ignoring an option to centre the ball and instead kicked it out on the full, allowing the Bombers to hang on.

Just as he did in 2021, Stringer is delivering his best in a contract year, finishing with three crucial goals in a low-scoring tussle.

Jake Stringer.
Jake Stringer enjoys the moment after steering through a major against the Saints. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“He’s been criticised in the past, and he would say some of that was of his own doing,” Scott said of Stringer.

“But some of it has been out of his control as well with injury and some other off-field challenges.

“I can’t speak highly enough of his effort to get his off-field life right.

“That’s enabled him to clear the decks to be able to get to work and get himself as fit as he can possibly get, and he’s getting the rewards for it now.”

Nic Martin equalled the Bombers’ record for most possessions (44) in a game, matching teammate Darcy Parish’s mark set in two games in 2021 and 2022.

The 22-year-old was given space to roam off halfback, the Saints seemingly unfazed when the ball was in Martin’s hands.

St Kilda started brightly, but their forward line functioned worse as the game went on without suspended star forward Max King.

Small forward Jack Higgins popped up with three goals, while King’s replacement Anthony Caminiti slotted two majors.

Essendon’s Sam Durham was subbed out in the third quarter after his head made heavy contact with the ground following a tackle by Seb Ross.

After first believing Durham had injured his shoulder, Essendon later confirmed he had been concussed and would enter the 12-day protocols.

Essendon's Sam Durham.
Essendon’s Sam Durham (L) heads for the bench against St Kilda. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Bombers tall Harrison Jones had an impact with two goals after being a late inclusion for midfielder Will Setterfield (knee soreness).

In his first game against St Kilda after moving from the Saints to Essendon in the off-season, Jade Gresham was quiet and had just two touches in the first half.

Essendon (2-1) will head into Gather Round with a clash against Port Adelaide on Friday night, while St Kilda (1-2) face Richmond at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

Saints coach Ross Lyon heaped praise on the Bombers, saying it would be “unfair” on Essendon to describe the loss as a missed opportunity.

“We got done around the ball really simply,” a disappointed Lyon said.

“We asked for a bit of composure with our ball use; every time we spread the ball we looked super dangerous.

“But at the clutch we had opportunities where we just didn’t make good decisions when we had players out.”

AAP