Bombers belt Saints to reach pre- season final
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.
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-
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.