ESSENDON 1.6 5.10 12.14 16.17 (113)
WEST COAST 1.3 3.5 3.7 7.10 (52)
Essendon has proven their flag credentials with a dominant 61 point win over the West Coast Eagles.
The Eagles, who came into the game on a high and undefeated, were sent packing from Etihad Stadium by a roaring black and red crowd and a hot Essendon line up.
Dustin Fletcher got the perfect 37th birthday present as his side ripped the Eagles from head to toe, with no small thanks to a seven goal third quarter.
West Coast, missing forwards Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski, Josh Kennedy and Andrew Embley; were dealt a further blow to their stocks with gun midfielder Matthew Priddis being subbed off in the first half with concussion.
The high-rolling Essendon coaching staff, despite what has been said about the money invested in them, is clearly developing a high quality side. Knocking off each Premiership favourite as they come, the Bombers are converting great endeavour into great results.
Their kick and run game-plan was out in force tonight as Essendon carved the Eagles through the middle, time and time again. Their renowned team work was also present, with every player but the substitute, Travis Colyer, scoring double digit disposals.
Dean Cox’s 20 touches and 32 hitouts was a small highlight for the West Coast with Nic Naitanui out for the week. Andrew Gaff racked up 25 disposals as well in what was otherwise a disappointing night for the Eagles.
The real highlight of the night was once again the tandem work of Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton through the middle. They demolished the diminished Eagle’s centre circle with 36 touches each; both are Brownlow Medal hopes and punters would be wise to load up early.
Essendon look like the club that they were in the early part of the century: The red and black faithful were out in force and the scarves and jackets were waving by the end; coach James Hird even had time for a 30 second strut along the boundary line before the final bounce.
At the end of the day, the Eagles will fly home a different side from the one who travelled from Perth in the week. You could be forgiven for wondering whether they had travelled in from 2010 as the injury ravaged side was torn to shreds by a superb, dominant Essendon side.
3: Brent Stanton remains one of the biggest weapons in the league; memories of being jeered of the ground by his own supporters last year forgiven as the Bombers faithful embrace their star. 36 disposals, 9 marks, 2 goals and 20 kicks for #5.
2: Jobe Watson is simply the perfect captain. Tough, imposing, a famous name; he loves the supporters and they love him. 36 touches too, with 19 kicks and 5 marks.
1: David Zaharakis once again showed himself to be the bargain of the 2008 ‘super-draft’. 32 touches, 19 kicks and 12 handballs for the young Bomber star.
Essendon: Crameri 3, Davey 3, Jetta 2, Ryder 2, Stanton 2, Bellchambers, Dyson, Lovett-Murray, Melksham
West Coast: Waters 2, Brennan, Darling, Hill, Kerr, McGinnity
Essendon: Stanton, Watson, Zaharakis, Hooker, Melksham, Crameri, Fletcher
West Coast: Cox, Kerr, Gaff, Shuey, McGinnity
West Coast: Priddis (concussion)
Essendon: Travis Colyer replaced Nathan Lovett-Murray at three-quarter time
West Coast: Ryan Neates replaced Matt Priddis (concussion) in the second quarter
Umpires: Stewart, Fila, Meredith
Official crowd: 43,260 at Etihad Stadium