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|8.11 (59)||Third Quarter [+]||9.5 (59)|
|7.10 (52)||Second Quarter [+]||5.3 (33)|
|2.5 (17)||First Quarter [+]||1.2 (8)|
The Bombers took the game by 21 after a brilliant second half that reversed a five-goal deficit in the second quarter.
Essendon seemed to turn around the midfield contest after half time by taking risks, moving the ball quickly and outrunning the Crows to link play and create chances.
Where in the second quarter the key Crows like Brad Crouch won the ball with ease, and started to find loose men up forward, in the third and fourth quarters the Bombers crowded the midfield and then slung forward at pace to exploit the space in their forward 50.
Midfielders like Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish and Andrew McGrath gut-ran into that space and bobbed up with goals and set-up others for the stay at home forwards Mitch Brown, who kicked four, and Cale Hooker who moved forward in that second half to offer a strong marking option.
Coach John Worsfold will also be heartened by the effort of his defenders, especially in the second half after Hooker was moved forward.
Mason Redman, David Zaharakis, Marty Gleeson and Conor McKenna all had over 20 possessions, while Patrick Ambrose and Michael Hartley were strong in the aerial contests against more experienced (and talented) opponents.
Adelaide had good players on the night – Josh Jenkins kicked three, Brodie Smith was dangerous from the outset and kicked three, Brad Crouch had 35 touches – but for the Crows the loss really sets them back in this campaign.
They will likely finish the round in eighth spot, behind the Bombers on points and dangerously close to arch-rivals Port who are nipping away in ninth.
In contrast this win all but assures Essendon a finals berth, and after their fourth consecutive win they may not be just making up the numbers.
While there are plenty of key players to return for the Bombers, they showed tonight that they have enough ability to challenge the top 8 when they get up and running.
Adelaide Crows 10.15.75
Essendon Bombers 15.6.96
The Adelaide Crows and the Essendon Bombers are both hoping to continue their momentum when they meet at the Adelaide Oval. Join The Roar for live scores and blog from 7:50pm AEST.
Adelaide took a sword to the hapless Gold Coast Suns last week, beating them by just under 100 points to pull away on percentage from the Bombers in seventh spot. Eddie Betts (six goals) and Josh Jenkins (four) were too much for a threadbare Gold Coast defence.
Ironically the severity of that win may end up costing Adelaide a low draft spot at the end of the season when the AFL considers priority picks (Adelaide have Carlton’s first selection this year).
Big losses add up, and the ease of Adelaide’s victory will be haunting the AFL boardroom when they consider what to do to jump-start the Suns.
This week Adelaide will find goals harder to come by against a generally stout Essendon backline, who have conceded the sixth fewest points this season.
The Bombers are in the middle of a fantastic run of three wins, including a battling victory over North Melbourne where they came back twice to seal victory.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was the matchwinner again, threading the winner with only a couple of minutes on the clock. Indeed it has been Essendon’s small forwards who have proven the difference in many games this year.
Essendon started this season poorly, but this recent run of good form has coincided with Dylan Shiel’s return to the side to support their core midfield stars like Zach Merrett.
Merrett was superb against North, picking up 34 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles. However, just as Adelaide won’t find goals as easy against the Essendon defence, Merrett, Shiel and company will have to work that much harder against Adelaide’s elite midfield.
Working in Adelaide’s favour is Essendon’s outs, headlined by the injured Michael Hurley who has been their defensive rock all year.
Orazio Fantasia and Jayden Laverde are also out with injuries that dilute their forward options, while journeyman ruck Zac Clarke is also out with an illness.
Dyson Heppell returns for this game to stiffen the midfield, but he is joined by squad players Michael Hartley, Patrick Ambrose and debutant Will Snelling.
In contrast Adelaide make one change, adding another forward option with Tom Lynch returning for Tyson Stengle.
If this game looked even on paper, Essendon’s changes this week do seem to tip the game in Adelaide’s favour.
Adelaide also have a great recent record over Essendon at the Adelaide Oval, recording 10-plus goal victories over the Bombers in their last two outings.
This game should be much closer than that, and will probably go in favour of the team that wins the midfield arm wrestle.
A win to the Bombers would be a massive statement for their finals legitimacy. With ninth-placed side Port Adelaide dropping away last week, a win to the Bombers would go a long way to ensure finals footy and silence a certain Twitter troll-account.
But Adelaide should have too much firepower and midfield grit to see that happen, especially with a Michael Hurley sized hole in the Essendon backline.
Adelaide by 12 points.