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The Roar

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Persistent issues continue to mar Saints and Bombers' seasons

Devon Smith and Jake Stringer of the Bombers look dejected after losing the round 6 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and Melbourne Demons at Etihad Stadium on April 29, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

St Kilda and Essendon have hang-ups that are well on the way to killing their AFL seasons.

The Saints’ woeful goalkicking on Sunday, especially early, cruelled any chance of an upset win over Melbourne.

The day before, Essendon were once again awful in the third quarter, scoring just one rushed behind as Hawthorn went on a six-goal run that decided their match.

Just as the Saints cannot seem to hit the side of a barn door when shooting for goal, Essendon are the only team not to win a third term after seven rounds.

The Bombers have lost the term nicknamed the premiership quarter by a combined total of 136 points.

Likewise, St Kilda were 28 points down at halftime against Melbourne after kicking a wasteful 3.8.

They kicked the opening two goals of the second half to give themselves a shot, but Melbourne quickly slammed the door shut with a three-goal burst.

Obviously, these are not the only problems for the Saints and Bombers.

Like Essendon, St Kilda also handballed more than they kicked.

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“That’s not our want,” said Saints coach Alan Richardson after his Bombers counterpart John Worsfold said much the same the day before.

But bad goalkicking is bad football and so are bad third quarters.

“I get incredibly frustrated for us, I get frustrated for the players,” Richardson said of their inaccuracy.

“You’re just not going to beat good teams – you’re not going to beat anyone really, given how even the competition is, unless you can take advantage of your opportunities.”

Worsfold was deadpan after Saturday’s 23-point loss, saying his players would have nightmares about the third quarter.

But he also said they had put measures in place to play better after halftime and they clearly had not worked.

The problem for Richardson and Worsfold is that these issues are fast becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

After coming into the season with high hopes, Essendon and St Kilda are in the bottom four.

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“I’ve challenged the group to not let that (poor goalkicking) affect you,” Richardson said.

“After halftime, we were really strong for about 10 minutes, (but) we weren’t able to maximise.

“It did seem a little bit today like – and it’s disappointing, but I think it’s understandable – that we then lost a bit of drive.

“It was if the energy had been sapped out of the group … there’s a fair chance it was deflating.”