Essendon has completed its first competitive hit-out of 2024, losing to the Saints by 66 points at RSEA Park on Friday afternoon.

The Bombers utilised the opportunity to experiment and try players in new positions, fielding a mix of different lineups throughout the day.

Zach Reid looked comfortable in his return to competitive football prior to being rested after half-time, with new recruit Ben McKay also lending an important hand on the last line of defence.


Nic Martin’s first opportunity behind the ball showed promising signs, while the on-ball brigade of Darcy Parish, Jye Caldwell and Zach Merrett generated some clean bursts of ball movement in the early stages.

Merrett was in a group including Jake Stringer and Todd Goldstein who sat out the second half, allowing opportunities for Nick Bryan in the ruck after the break, as well as a run for Nick Hind in a high forward role.

The slew of changes saw young defender Lewis Hayes play out the half pairing with McKay down back, with midfield opportunities also more prominent for Elijah Tsatas and Sam Durham.

Mason Redman hit the scoreboard for the Dons with a trademark running goal from outside 50, while Kyle Langford picked up where he left off from last season with two majors, again playing as a deep forward.


Caldwell and Matt Guelfi added to the scoreboard in the second half, but the Bombers found themselves unable to run down the second term lead established by the Saints.

Despite the defeat, the hit-out provided welcome chances for the side to gel in a first competitive outing, especially for its grouping of new recruits in McKay, Goldstein, Jade Gresham and Xavier Duursma.

The Dons now look ahead to their Community Series matchup with Geelong at GMHBA Stadium next Friday.

ST KILDA     3.3     7.8     10.9     16.10 (106)
ESSENDON      2.2     2.5     4.7     5.10 (40)

Langford 2, Redman, Guelfi, Caldwell