- from afl.com.au
ST KILDA was left embarrassed on Friday night after turning up against Essendon without energy and lacking a willingness to defend or work, according to coach Alan Richardson.
The Saints' four-game run of wins came to a screeching halt and their 67-point crushing of Richmond just six days ago was quickly forgotten as the Bombers cruised to a 61-point win at Etihad Stadium.
The Saints now face the tough task of rebounding against Sydney at the SCG next Saturday in a crunch game, with their position in the top eight suddenly under threat.
"If you don't turn up with enormous energy and a willingness to defend, a willingness to work, then you're going to get embarrassed. That's what happened," Richardson said on Friday night.
"We either wouldn't, or couldn't, execute our defence and we got beaten at the contest, so that's a pretty bad combination.
"We just didn't defend, didn't work hard enough in the contest, didn't work hard enough to get to the ball, to out-number and to support, and you end up getting embarrassed."
The Saints, who average an AFL-high eight more tackles than their opponents this year, were out-tackled 67-51 and lost the contested ball 135-120 in a one-sided clash.
Richardson acknowledged the Bombers' brilliant night, which has them back in the top-eight mix, but said the rapid turnaround in his own team's form had left him with a number of questions.
"Did I not get it right from a coaching point of view in terms of the boys being where they needed to be emotionally?" he said.
"Did we have too many boys hoping on the back of last week?
"Were we wanting to get on the end of other people's hard work? And yet we didn't have enough doing the work.
"That's certainly what we'll look at."
The Saints were missing suspended forward Tim Membrey on Friday night, but Richardson said his presence alone would not have made a difference given the team's poor application.
The forward line was young, with teenage debutant Josh Battle (one goal) joined by fourth-gamer Ben Long (11 possessions and a team-high five tackles), but they were just excuses.
"We need to be much better than that and we need to be able to turn things around," Richardson said.
"There were moments, not often, where we got a little bit of momentum and we just weren't able to stop them scoring.
"They were just too aggressive with their offence and we couldn't defend it."
The key to rebounding against the Swans, Richardson said, would be obvious.
"There won't be too many secrets in that – we've got to compete, we've got to work hard for each other," the coach said.
"We go away as a group and we get it done."