The battle of the contenders has gone the way of the Demons on points. While it looked at times as if Melbourne would land a knock out blow on Essendon, the Bombers finished the match strong to improve the scoreline, and finish with some respectability.
The match saw two pre-season contenders touted as teams to watch coming in with less than attractive 2-3 records, the loser of today’s match with all the work to do for a finals spot.
It was Essendon who started the stronger, however they simply could not land the killer blow on the scoreboard to put the game out of the reach of the hard playing Demons.
Some early yips in front of goal for Max Gawn gave a scare to Melbourne fans of the portents to come, however Essendon’s own inaccuracy only had them six points ahead at half time.
The second half was all Melbourne, as Bayley Fritsch helped himself to three goals for the match, ably assisted by Mitch Hannan and Jake Melksham, who himself had two goals to his name.
For the Bombers, they just never really clicked, and once Melbourne got their act together, Essendon just could not keep up.
Jake Stringer, with only nine disposals, had three goals for a good output. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti played well also, but aside from those two players, the Bombers did not have enough contributors to mount an attack to take the game.
So Melbourne will enjoy a 50-50 record going into the next round, with winnable games before them. As for Essendon, a tough contest awaits up next against Hawthorn, an occasion that is always a hard affair, and no doubt the bombers will lift for that one.
Meanwhile, Charlie Spargo, continuing a long line of family to play for the Dees, had a good day out, with 18 disposals and two goals.
A lot has been made of the pain the Essendon Football Club and its supporters have suffered since 2012, with the supplements scandal and subsequent sanctions leading to a wooden spoon in 2016, but really this once-proud club has been in the wilderness since they won the premiership in 2000.
Dylan Shiel has dropped the first bombshell of the 2018 AFL trade period, nominating Essendon as his preferred trade destination, shunning what were believed to be his three most likely suitors in Carlton, Hawthorn and St Kilda in the process.
Essendon’s 2018 season really was a case of sliding doors. If they had not lost a game to Carlton (giving that club one of the only two wins it achieved in the season) there was every chance that the Dons would have made the final eight as one of the in-form teams.