Bombers suffer fifth straight AFL loss
Essendon’s fifth consecutive AFL loss has left shellshocked coach James Hird looking for answers, their top-four hopes having faded so badly they are in danger of missing the finals altogether.
Carlton kept themselves in the hunt with a 24.12 (156) to 8.12 (60) victory over the Bombers in a spiteful round-21 clash in front of 59,381 fans at the MCG on Saturday.
The Blues improved their win-loss record to 11-9, the same as the Bombers whose injury crisis continued with key defenders Dustin Fletcher (hip flexor) and Jake Carlisle (ankle) both limping off.
Carlton’s Jarrad Waite booted five goals while Marc Murphy was best-afield with 37 possessions and two goals.
Bryce Gibbs, Brock McLean, Kade Simpson and Andrew Carrazzo were also dominant for the Blues.
Jobe Watson and Tom Bellchambers were among Essendon’s better contributors.
“You could say the whole footy club gets a cross today,” Hird said.
“They (supporters) have got every right to be pretty angry about the way we’ve performed over the last five weeks.
“It seems to be that at the back end of years we can’t compete with other clubs. Last year it was round nine that we started to lose our form (with five consecutive defeats) and lose our ability to play.
“This year it was probably after the Western Bulldogs game (losing six of seven matches since round 14).
“I’d like to think it’s a building thing. It’s the fact (we have) to do more pre-seasons and get older.
“But today … it’s a hugely disappointing performance by all of us. After about the first 20 minutes, we didn’t turn up for that fight.
“That’s what I want to see (next Friday) against Richmond and that’s what I’m worried about now.”
It’s a massive fall from grace for the Bombers who won eight of their first nine games in 2012.
A fired-up Murphy was a star for the Blues after putting a target on his back by saying he was looking forward to the re-match with the Bombers following Carlton’s five-goal loss in round four, a game in which Carrazzo suffered a fractured shoulder in a tackle.
Feelings spilled over in an all-in melee at quarter-time.
Leading by 16 points at the first break, the Blues kicked away with a 10-goal second term to Essendon’s four.
Carlton coach Brett Ratten was thrilled with his side’s fourth win in their past five games.
But he took a swipe at a mid-week Seven news report that claimed his coaching future was under threat.
Ratten said the report about his lack of support at board level was rubbish.
“I wouldn’t mind an apology because that would be nice,” he said.
“I’m going to watch SBS and ESPN.”
Essendon face Richmond and Collingwood in the two remaining rounds while Carlton play Gold Coast and St Kilda.© AAP 2013
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