With Essendon coming into the match with 13 straight defeats, they were expected to be little more than cannon fodder for St Kilda in Round 15 of the 2006 AFL season. The reality would prove to be something completely different, with the Kevin Sheedy coached team taking an early lead and staying in the contest until the final siren.
Joel Reynolds and Jason Johnson kicked the first two goals of the game to provide the perfect start for the Bombers. Fraser Gehrig, on the run, would get one back for the Saints before Brett Voss received a gift as a result of a clumsy Adam McPhee challenge on Robert Harvey. Voss’ goal saw the margin reduced to four points, but it was soon out to 20 points after Jobe Watson and Scott Lucas goaled either side of quarter time. Gehrig and Jason Gram would bookend another Lucas major, to have the Saints within 14 points at the main break.
Enter Stephen Milne. Quiet in the first half, he would kick three goals in the second, to well and truly leave his mark on the contest. His first, followed by a smart snap from Cain Ackland, saw the Saints draw within two points. Andrew Lovett would settle for the home team though, his two majors in two minutes saw the Bombers back out to a goal and a half lead. With the game once again slipping from their grasp, it was Milne who provided the spark for Grant Thomas’ men. His second goal of the term, in the shadows of three-quarter time, kept his team within striking distance with a quarter to play.
As close as they were, there was some hoodoo busting for the Saints if they were to come back and claim the premiership points. In 39 games against Kevin Sheedy coached Essendon teams, they had won just seven times. If this was bad, even worse reading was their record when trailing at 3/4 Time at the MCG. In 177 games at the home of football, the Saints had won just five games when trailing at the final change.
They gave themselves the best possible chance at improving both records with an early goal to Nick Riewoldt. Damien Peverill quickly answered before a third for Milne, and a second for Riewoldt, saw the Saints lead for the first time in the game. A third goal for Andrew Lovett once again handed the advantage to Essendon until Fraser Gehrig kicked truly after a strong mark on the goal line. For 12 nervous minutes the ball moved from one end to another, but there would be no further score. Pushed all the way, the Saints had held on for a thrilling three-point victory.