ESSENDON 7.0 9.2 11.10 15.11 (101) ADELAIDE 2.6 5.7 9.7 14.8 (92)
Goals: Essendon: B Stanton 2 J Winderlich 2 P Ryder 2 B Goddard B Howlett D Zaharakis H Hocking J Daniher J Melksham M Hurley P Ambrose T Colyer. Adelaide: J Jenkins 4 E Betts 3 J Podsiadly 2 T Walker 2 B Martin B Smith P Dangerfield.
BEST: Essendon: Hibberd, Heppell, Goddard, Ryder, Hooker, Fletcher. Adelaide: Thompson, Jenkins, Wright, Dangerfield, Walker, Sloane.
Injuries: Essendon: M Hibberd (shin). Adelaide: D Mackay (concussion).
Umpires: Ray Chamberlain, Shane McInerney, Robert O'Gorman.
Official Crowd: 30,948 at Etihad Stadium.
Essendon survived a nerve-jangling final quarter to get home by nine points over Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Crows ran out each quarter more strongly than their opposition and it almost proved the case again in the last as they came back from 15 points down at the final change to close within nine when James Podsiadly outmarked Dustin Fletcher late in the term.
Instead of finding a way to lose, Essendon this time found a way to win. Michael Hurley went forward to snap a goal to restore some comfort to the margin at 15 points. Then, to the delight of the Essendon fans, Fletcher won the next contest with Podsiadly, spoiling to the boundary in a marking contest.
Still the Crows would not lie down. Eddie Betts seized a loose ball and snapped one through from the 50-metre line and it was back to nine points again. This time, however, that was it, and although Adelaide ended the game in attack it could not find another goal.
The win took Essendon to 7-6, a win behind eighth-placed Gold Coast, but a game clear of the Crows, now 10th.
Scott Thompson was tireless for the Crows with 41 possessions in a best-on-ground performance. Michael Hibberd was Essendon’s best, with Dyson Heppell not far behind.
Josh Jenkins kicked four goals for the Crows but he will rue the one he missed in the final term. Patrick Ryder, Brent Stanton and Jason Winderlich all scored two for the Dons, with Winderlich’s second coming after he ran into an open goal after off-loading Matthew Jaensch on the 50-metre line.
That followed a Ben Howlett check-side snap from the forward pocket, that pushed the lead out to 21 points early in the final term.
Adelaide came right back into the game in the third quarter, adding four goals to two to bring the margin down to 15 points at the final change. It had not looked that way when Essendon dominated the first 15 minutes of the quarter. After a spate of rushed behinds and a couple of missed shots, goals to Joe Daniher and David Zaharakis stretched Essendon’s lead to a game-high 36 points.
Just as they had in each of the first two terms, however, the Crows ran the quarter out the stronger. Three goals in not many more minutes – to Josh Jenkins with a clearance and run from the centre-square bounce, Betts and Brodie Martin halved the gap in quick time.
Both sides used their substitute in this term, Tom Bellchambers being replaced by Zach Merrett for the Dons and Jarryd Lyons replacing David Mackay for the Crows.
Essendon had led by 19 points at half-time, though that had come down from 24 at quarter-time as Adelaide had gradually worked its way back into the game.
That is on the scoreboard. The Crows were never that far out of it in general play and once they started to find some relatively safe routes to goal they closed the scoreboard gap too, albeit not by much. With the Dons having squandered an early third-quarter lead of 33 points against Melbourne the previous Sunday, the Crows would have gone to the rooms believing they were still very much in the match.
The second term opened with Sam Jacobs finding Taylor Walker on the lead inside the attacking 50. Walker slotted the goal home to reduce the margin to 18 points.
When Winderlich replied almost immediately for Essendon, the Dons had kicked eight goals straight, a stark contrast to the profligate conversion a week earlier.
Indeed, with two rushed behinds and a goal to Patrick Ryder comprising the rest of the quarter’s scoring, Essendon had gone a full half without missing a shot for goal.
Essendon bounced out of the blocks as if set on redemption for the one-point loss to Melbourne.
The team that hasn’t been able to score much more than 10 goals a game lately had one in the first minute, two in the first two and seven within 22 minutes.
The gang that couldn’t shoot straight last week, with 10 goals from 27 scoring shots, now couldn’t miss. Seven straight goals gave the Dons their highest first-quarter score of the year.
The Dons were away with three goals before the Crows had pretty much touched the ball. When they did create their first chance, Betts missed a set shot from well within range.