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St Kilda down Essendon to cap off 150th anniversary

St Kilda have celebrated their 150th anniversary in style and maintained their unbeaten start to the AFL season with a tough 18-point win over Essendon.

Jack Higgins and Dan Butler kicked four goals each for the Saints, whose blistering opening and stifling defence were features of the 14.8 (92) to 11.8 (74) victory at the MCG.

But there were some nervous moments in the final term when the Bombers drew level – having trailed by 34 points early in the match – before St Kilda steadied with a five-goal burst to put the result to bed.

It improved the Saints’ record to 3-0 under returned coach Ross Lyon this season, while Brad Scott was dealt his first loss in charge of Essendon.

Tony Lockett, Ian Stewart, Ross Smith, Barry Breen and Nicky Winmar were among the St Kilda greats on hand to help celebrate the club’s milestone, part of a 69,251-strong crowd.

The faithful who turned up got their money’s worth as witnesses to a rollercoaster ride of a contest.

St Kilda’s opening two goals were gifts from 50m penalties against Mason Redman and they had the first five majors on the board before time-on in the first term.

AFL Match Centre

Late to the party, Essendon trailed by 27 points at quarter-time.

Momentum swung around the contest when the Bombers lifted their intensity, with Will Setterfield setting an example.

Essendon moved Kyle Langford forward at the final change and kicked the first three goals of the final term.

A pair of Jye Caldwell snaps came either side of Langford’s toe-poke on the line.

But Higgins and Jade Gresham provided quick replies for St Kilda, who booted five successive goals as they kicked into party mode.

Brad Crouch (31 disposals), Jack Sinclair (26), Mason Wood (27), Seb Ross (24) and Gresham (23) were all strong contributors.

Nic Martin (27 disposals) was among the Bombers’ best and Darcy Parish racked up 34 touches, with Caldwell and Archie Perkins kicking two goals each.

Jordan Ridley and Jake Kelly were solid in defence but explosive forward Jake Stringer had little impact on return from injury, kicking one goal from eight disposals.

As part of their 150th celebrations, St Kilda inducted former star players Leigh Montanga and Nick Dal Santo into the club’s Hall of Fame.

Champion full-forward Bill Mohr was posthumously elevated to Saints ‘Legend’ status.

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