Four goals to Stewart Cameri allowed Essendon to celebrate Dustin Fletchers 350th AFL game with a nail-biting 17-point victory over the Gold Coast Suns.
In the corresponding match in round six last season, the Bombers scored a record 15-goal first quarter to eventually thrash the Suns by 139 points.
But almost a year on a more-competitive Suns outfit fought right up until the end in front of a crowd of 17,069 at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, going into the last term ahead before the Bombers were able to eventually pull away and win 15.15 (105) to 13.10 (88).
The Bombers remain unbeaten after three games, while the Suns have yet to win this season and remain searching for their first win at home.
A lop-sided result was shaping early in the game when Essendon took a 21-point lead into quarter time.
But Gold Coast came out the stronger in a rain-effected second term, scoring three straight goals to narrow the Bombers’ lead to four points.
Led by their inspirational skipper Gary Ablett, who stood out yet again with a game-high 44 possessions, the Suns claimed the lead late in the quarter, before Essendon were able to wrestle it back only minutes later to go into the half-time break in front by five.
Gold Coast continued to shine in the greasy conditions after half time kicked five goals to Essendon’s three to lead by seven points going into the final term, with Nathan Bock kicking two goals.
Essendon pulled away with three early goals in the fourth, but were not able to breathe easy until late in the term.
Essendon defender Courtenay Dempsey left the field with an injured hamstring at the start of the second quarter.