ST KILDA will play in next weeks NAB Cup Grand Final after their thrilling 3 point win over the Bombers last night at Telstra Dome.

The close contest saw both teams level at the final change before a Riewoldt-less Saints scrambled home through David Armitage who goaled from a free kick with 51 second left to play, when Bomber Angus Monfries dived on the footy. The Saints will take on the winner of tonight’s other NAB Semi Final between Adelaide and Hawthorn at AAMI Stadium.

The Saints opened the scoring through a goal to Leigh Montagna before Scott Lucas slotted the Bombers first from the boundary line.
Some poor kicking from the Bombers and goals to Nick Dal Santo and Nick Riewoldt helped the Saints to 6 point lead at the first change, despite having less scoring shots.

Although the Saints looked to dominated the clearences in the second term, with a lot coming from free kicks, the Bombers managed to claw their way to a seven point half time lead with two goals each to Andrew Welsh and Jay Neagle and a supergoal from ruckman David Hille.

Nick Riewoldt, in his first NAB Cup match for the year, started well kicking three first half goal before he was put in cotten wool and didn’t return for the rest of the match. He was seen on the boundary during the second half icing that troublesome knee, but it’s been reported that it was only precautionary.

Michael Gardiner, in his bid to play AFL footy again after crossing from West Coast, opened the scoring in the second half with a good piece of work to out body his opponent. Behinds then flowed from both sides with Lucas kicking all three for the Bombers and two rushed gave the Saints six points. When Jarryd Allen recieved a 50 metre penalty he kicked a supergoal from 10 metres out and the Saints were out to a two goal lead, but Jay Neagle stepped up yet again to kick his third and then fourth to level the scores at the final change and set up an exciting last quarter.

Bombers coach Matthew Knights decided to throw young Patrick Ryder forward early in the last quarter and it instantly paid dividends with Ryder kicking two quick goals. The Saints then hit back through Nick Dal Santo and Shane Birss who both took strong marks up forward. When Courtney Johns marked and goaled from 30 in the dying minutes the Bombers look to be home, but the Saints stole the lead back with just a minute remaining when Angus Monfries dived on the footy just 20 metres out from the Saints goal. The umpired ruled holding the ball and David Armitage put the Saints through to the NAB Cup final.

Essendon – 0.1.6 – 1.7.6 – 1.9.10 – 1.12.10 (91)
St Kilda – 0.3.0 – 0.8.2 – 1.9.10 – 1.12.13 (94)

St Kilda: Supergoals: Allen. Goals: Riewoldt 3, Milne 2, Dal Santo 2, Montagna, Baker, Gardiner, Birss, Armitage
Essendon: Supergoals: Hille. Goals: Neagle 4, Welsh 2, Lucas 2, Ryder 2, Dick, Johns

Essendon: Neagle, Stanton, Peverill, Nash, Welsh, Ryder, Watson
St Kilda: Hayes, Jones, Dal Santo, Schneider, King, Birss, Gilbert, X. Clarke

Umpires: Chamberlain, Jeffery, Stevic
Crowd: 26,079 at Telstra Dome