Essendon cruise past disappointing Lions

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    They bashed us up. Brisbane coach Michael Voss’ four-word summation of four quarters of subordination endured by his side at Etihad Stadium on Saturday was as precise as Essendon were in their 67-point belting of the Lions.

    Essendon sliced and diced Brisbane in a 19.15 (129) to 9.8 (62) hammering which suggests the Bombers are genuine finals contenders.

    “When you’re trying to debrief a game like that, you’re trying to figure out the actual core of it (what went wrong) and the reality is that they bashed us up,” Voss said.

    “Because of that it creates (players being) tentative, and your composure goes out the window.”

    The victory gives Essendon a 5-1 win-loss record for the season and genuine finals credibility.

    Were it not for a one-point defeat by Collingwood in their last hitout on Anzac Day, the Bombers would be unbeaten this season.

    Any lingering disappointment had vanished inside the first 11 minutes on Saturday as Essendon set the tone for the match with the opening four goals and suffocating defensive pressure.

    Essendon beat the Lions in all aspects, smashing them around the clearances, out-possessing and out-tackling their rivals.

    Most pleasing for Bombers coach James Hird was their miserly defence, with the Lions scoring just two goals in the second half.

    “Our ability to run out a game and use the ball well were pleasing, but the area I think we need to get better on is that defensive area, and it was good today,” Hird said.

    “The players now believe that if they play the way they want to play, and if we can play the game-style that we want, we’ll be competitive.”

    Midfielders Brent Stanton (39 possessions) and Jobe Watson (36) were dominant, while onballer Sam Lonergan tackled himself to a standstill and also booted two goals to go with his 12 tackles.

    Forward Stewart Crameri booted all four of his goals for the match in the opening term, but was taken off the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

    Hird said medical staff were confident Crameri had not sustained any serious injury – just a knock to the inside of his knee which they didn’t want to risk with the game already won.

    The match also had a third quarter melee in which Essendon’s Paddy Ryder and Brisbane’s Jed Adcock were heavily involved.

    Essendon’s win sets up a huge match next week against high-flying West Coast, and Hird is looking forward to a game shaping as the season’s most accurate yardstick of the Bombers’ place in the pecking order.

    “In the competition it’s too hard to know where you are until you’ve played every team and you’re a fair way into the year,” Hird said.

    “We’ve probably played more teams who were outside the eight last year, and that helps us.

    “But our goal is to improve and I think every player on our list is starting to show that improvement.”

    Brisbane are now 2-4, with skipper Jonathan Brown’s two goals and 21 touches one of few bright spots as he gathers match fitness following his pre-season facial injury.

    © AAP 2017

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