Eagles trounce hapless Bombers
Essendon continues to suffer, with a third consecutive defeat seeing West Coast outperform the Dons by 53 points on Sunday afternoon.PT1M12S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rqt2 620 349 August 12, 2013
WEST COAST 3.6 6.9 12.10 18.12 (120) ESSENDON 3.3 6.7 8.13 9.13 (67)
GOALS West Coast: LeCras 5, Dalziell 2, Darling 2, Hill 2, Wellingham 2, Gaff, Cripps, Kennedy, Priddis, Schofield. Essendon: Goddard 3, Winderlich 2, Hooker, Baguley, Kommer, Bellchambers.
BEST West Coast: Priddis, Dalziell, Wellingham, Brown, LeCras, Glass, Smith. Essendon: Hibberd, Heppell, Melksham, Goddard, Hooker.
UMPIRES Meredith, Leppard, Hosking.
CROWD 32,595 at Etihad Stadium.
As another game slipped from their grasp on Sunday afternoon, Essendon's edgy fans looked for someone to blame.
They booed the umpires for a free kick count that at half-time was running five-to-one against them. They cursed the sun for shining in their eyes. Most tellingly, they fell into periods of morbid silence.
Sharrod Wellingham celebrates a goal. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Goddard (3.0), Winderlich (2.0), Bellchambers (1.1), Kommer (1.1), Baguley (1.0), Hooker (1.0), Gumbleton (0.2), Hardingham (0.1), Hocking (0.1), Howlett (0.1), Melksham (0.1), Myers (0.1)||Scorers||LeCras (5.2), Darling (2.2), Dalziell (2.0), Hill (2.0), Wellingham (2.0), Schofield (1.1), Cripps (1.0), Gaff (1.0), Kennedy (1.0), Priddis (1.0), Cox (0.1), McGinnity (0.1)|
The truth was hard to face, that the villains were the victims: the players. Protest as they have that the ''external stuff'' hasn't affected their football, this was the baldest evidence in a dossier that grows by the week that they have been worn down by the game's sorry scandal.
James Hird even conceded as much, adding that no group of footballers has been subjected to such relentless scrutiny and speculation, and throughout they have been amazing. The coach insisted they are still up for the fight, but Sunday's performance was that of a team on its knees.
Hird maintained his men had tried, but his assessment of a game that was gone even before the Eagles kicked the last six goals was revealing. ''I thought we had a go, I just didn't think we had confidence with the ball in our hand, our method around the ball in terms of when the ball spilled out, the Eagles outnumbered us better,'' he said.
AFL Round 20 Essendon v West Coast Eagles
Essendon's Brendon Goddard is under attack from Eagles' Patrick McGinnity and Sharrod Wellingham. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Run and spread is the shop window of workrate, and has been a hallmark of Hird's team throughout the season, but on Sunday it was the most glaring difference between the teams.
Matt Priddis set the tone, setting aside his duties on Jobe Watson and frustrating his own tagger Heath Hocking by pursuing the ball and being instrumental in the many fast breaks that put teammates in the clear and resulted in goals that deflated their pursuers. Brad Dalziell was the beneficiary early on, Mark LeCras late with five cream-on-the-top goals.
Watson earned his coach's praise for what he has managed so soon after breaking a collarbone, but while his statistical output was as it always is, he epitomised his team. He fumbled, missed targets and seemed to have enough weight on his shoulders even without Priddis.
Eagle rock: Dean Cox and Bomber Paddy Ryder try a few dance steps. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Up forward the Bombers were impotent, losing Jason Winderlich after two early goals to a hamstring issue, and getting nothing out of Scott Gumbleton or Tom Bellchambers as Mitch Brown and Darren Glass stood tall.
Gumbleton was hampered by what Hird reported was a very bad early corky, and after not touching the ball in the first quarter his day went downhill from there. Bronx cheers greeted his few second-half possessions, and turned to laughter when he kicked the ball into the point post from two metres away.
From the outset the portents were gloomy. Andrew Gaff goaled with the first kick of the game after a 50-metre penalty, Dustin Fletcher was denied a free despite stripping Scott Lycett of the ball, and Josh Hill swooped amid goalmouth confusion. Even Watson handballed to nobody.
In the first half especially the lack of polish seemed contagious; John Worsfold noted there were times when he thought his players' mistakes would be costly, ''but we didn't get hurt from them because Essendon followed up with an error''.
The third quarter began with Alwyn Davey handballing a behind — for his own team. Kicks continued to miss targets by considerable margins, and Ben Howlett even followed up a set-shot poster with an air swing.
Hird could not put his finger on it — 60 forward entries to 51 and more contested possessions should not amount to a 53-point loss, but that was to ignore the elephant in the room, or at the very least the lead in his players' saddlebags.
The Eagles literally ran away with it, as Jamie Cripps did from a spent Dyson Heppell in the last quarter to set up Josh Hill for a game-breaking goal.
LeCras, who'd looked half-dead after a body blow in the second term, treated himself to a hat-trick of last quarter goals. Until now, Essendon has drawn much deserved praise for coming again and again in a race few think it can win.
But its run has come to an end.
LECRAS' QUICK RECOVERY
Mark LeCras has not had the luckiest run with injury, and was just back from a two-week break against the Bombers when he fell face first across the boundary line late in the second quarter and got up looking like he had hurt at least five different body parts. This time, though, the gods were looking out for him. It took LeCras about two minutes to make his way to the bench he was so sore, but after just a short stopover he was back on the field, kicking five goals to make sure of the big win.
BACK FOR SECONDS
Points for either persistence or stupidity go to the final-quarter ground invader who, grabbed by security officers after an awkward stumble on the wing, somehow managed to evade them once escorted in the direction of police. The man disappeared up a service ramp, made his way to the opposite side of the ground and made a second appearance on it, only to get tackled even more quickly. Hope it was worth the hefty fine.
WATSON IN ACTION EARLY
Jobe Watson recorded 19 disposals in the opening half - his highest recorded before half-time in a game this season. He was a bit quieter in the second half posting just 13 possessions, for a total 32 made up of 15 kicks and 17 handballs. - EMMA QUAYLE, CHAMPION DATA