Bombers belt Saints to reach pre- sea­son fi­nal

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

ESSENDON are into their first AFL pre-sea­son grand fi­nal for 11 years, brush­ing aside St Kilda by 39 points at Eti­had Sta­dium.

Cap­ping a dirty night for the Saints, key de­fender Sam Fisher suf­fered a fa­cial in­jury as the Bombers con­tin­ued their im­pres­sive start un­der new coach James Hird, win­ning 0.12.12 ( 84) to 0.6.9 ( 45).

Essendon kicked the open­ing goal of the game less than a minute af­ter t he f i rst bounce and Fisher was hurt in an ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sion shortly af­ter, set­ting the tone for the night.

Fisher could have a fa­cial frac­ture, but at quar­ter-time coach Ross Lyon said the early signs were the in­jury was not se­ri­ous.

The resur­gent

Bombers will now play the win­ner of to­day’s semi-fi­nal be­tween West Coast and Colling­wood next Fri­day night at Eti­had Sta­dium.

The last time Essendon made the pre-sea­son de­cider, they beat North Mel­bourne in a fiery match and went on to dom­i­nate the 2000 sea­son.

They are light years away from be­ing that pro­fi­cient but the Hird regime is defi-

show­ing

good

early nitely signs.

For the Saints, they will now face a chal­lenge match at Coffs Har­bour against Syd­ney on Satur­day week.

The Bombers were f ar more des­per­ate and used the ball much bet­ter, lead­ing by 44 points at three-quar­ter time. It was again no­tice­able they have im­proved their de­fen­sive play, a big prob­lem for the Bombers last year when they fin­ished 14th.

Hird has made Essendon’s de­fence a ma­jor fo­cus.

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