SYDNEY 7.1 12.4 15.4 18.6 (114) ESSENDON 1.1 5.3 6.6 9.10 (64)
Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 5 J McVeigh 3 K Tippett 3 L Parker 2 A Goodes C Bird D Rampe J Kennedy T Derickx. Essendon: J Carlisle 2 P Ryder 2 B Goddard D Zaharakis H Hocking J Daniher T Bellchambers.
BEST: Sydney: Kennedy, Franklin, Hannebery, Jack, Richards, McVeigh. Essendon: Watson, Ryder, Goddard, Hooker, Heppell, Hibberd.
Umpires: Troy Pannell, Luke Farmer, Brendan Hosking.
Official Crowd: 41,098 at Etihad Stadium.
The dual quandaries that confounded Essendon before this game left it just as unsettled after.
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Swans demolish Essendon
Lance Franklin proves his worth as Sydney overwhelm Essendon to win by 50.
What to do forward? How to stop Sydney at the back? Going down by 50 points to the ever improving Swans, the problems remain.
Regular nemesis Lance Franklin was not stopped – again – booting five goals. And forward of the ball the Dons kicked just nine goals themselves and continued to rummage about searching for a viable forward target.
They looked better for Tom Bellchambers’ return and the times when Paddy Ryder led from the goal square but when the game was to be won their forward line was non-existent.
Jake Carlisle, made the substitute in a move which might have hinted at the first stage of his transition out of the side, booted two in his brief time on the ground to offer the hope that the awaited turn-around in form might not be far away.
As a game, the contest was well shot by then. Seven goals to one from the Swans in the first term created the platform from which the result was a fait accompli.
The Bombers didn’t lack for endeavour, they lacked for structure when it mattered. Early on they played as if without forwards. Having chosen to go man-on-man the forwards they had were often sucked up the ground so that when Essendon recovered possession they found themselves bursting through the middle of the ground only to stop, prop and look sideways.
The Swans, conversely, were embarrassed for choice when you consider they had six goals on the board before Franklin kicked his first and none of Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid or Adam Goodes contributed one of those first-term goals.
Instead, and this was the galling bit for Essendon, Tom Derickx had lobbed one in from 50 off a step and Luke Parker booted his second when he curled a banana from the boundary after a half-look. Essendon couldn’t buy those sorts of chances. Where that might have given the Bombers a sense of confidence that they were silencing the danger men, that thin consolation evaporated in the second term when Franklin kicked the first three and Goodes a fourth.
Troublingly for the competition, Franklin, a player whose best games have been when he exploits his athleticism rather than stays at home trading weight for marks, the full-forward was playing more like a traditional forward muscling up to defenders and taking marks.
The game was easing away from Essendon because what ball it was winning in the middle it was losing forward. Jobe Watson, in particular, and Brendon Goddard were responsible for them scratching back into the game because by example Watson illustrated how to move the ball inside 50.
Heath Hocking twice cleverly read the ball off the hands at stoppages and squeezed home shots, one for a goal.
Joe Daniher friskily took advantage of open space and ran in to goal as Essendon secured consecutive goals for the first time and mounted a resurgence. That was halted by a mysterious free kick and then legitimate 50-metre penalty to Goodes, which resulted in a goal.
They looked better in the second half when Ryder played out of the goal square. He kicked the first of the second half with a classic lead mark and goal.
The game was halted for several minutes in the third term when umpire Troy Pannell was knocked out in a collision with Nick Malceski and had to be taken from the ground in a cart, but was later reported to be OK.
Minutes later Michael Hurley, down low over the ball, was clattered into by Dan Hannebery, who struck him in the head and neck – leaving Hurley on the ground for several minutes. Inexplicably Essendon was given no free kick. The ball went forward and Tippett, who not sighted for the first half, goaled on his way to finishing with three to complement Franklin’s five.