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Dons on Song

James Brosnan  May 7, 2016 5:44 PM

Shaun Edwards dashes through the middle. Photo by Dave Nelson.

Shaun Edwards dashes through the middle. Photo by Dave Nelson.

Essendon VFL has held on for a memorable 21-point win over Geelong at Windy Hill on Saturday.

The Cats took the lead late in a tense last quarter but the Bombers were able to kick away late, eventually winning 16.9 (105) to Geelong’s 12.12 (84).

With the Cats holding a four point advantage approaching time-on in the final term, Connor McKenna relished the pressure to goal from 50 metres out to regain the Bomber lead.

Shaun Edwards’ second goal soon after and Jack Langford’s third ensured the win, with Jackson Merrett capping off a great game with a goal after the siren to extend the final margin.

The victory was huge in the context of the Bombers season, who now move clear of the Cats and remain on the positive side of the win-loss ledger at three wins and two losses.

The game started well for the home side who were immediately on the board through Langford. Geelong’s Michael Luxford kicked two for the Cats before Martin Gleeson was able to goal on the outside of his boot in traffic.

Players from both sides were throwing their body in to the contest, early signs that this game was going to be hard fought for its duration. Merrett, Daniel Coghlan and Yestin Eades gave the Bombers an early break, but a goal from George Horlin-Smith cut the home sides lead to 11 points at the first change.

Despite the Bombers lead on the scoreboard, they trailed the inside 50 count 16 to nine with the coaches urging them to fix the defensive aspects of their game.

A holding the ball free kick to Nick Kommer made for an easy shot to get the second quarter underway at the Reynolds Stand end. A couple of Cats goals brought the margin to within a kick, before Gach Nyuon was the beneficiary of a free kick and 50 metre penalty to convert from the goal square.

The pressure from both sides was intense; a tackle from Jim Ferry gave Merrett his second from close range after taking the advantage. A 50 metre penalty to Geelong’s Matthew Farrelly brought him in to range and he made no mistake and a fast break from the Cats ending with a Horlin-Smith goal made it one straight kick at half time.   

Geelong’s ability to get the ball with speed through the middle and over the back of the Bombers was a key area to address at the main change.

Essendon set the start of the third term alight with goals from Langford, Edwards and two from Sam Grimley blowing the lead out to five goals. But as impressive as they were, the Bombers let the Cats back in with three goals at the other end.

Leading by nine points at three quarter time, Egan demanded his players get back to the style of play seen early in the third quarter.

Both sides were applying great pressure and turnovers were regular but neither side was able to make the other pay the price until the Cats took the lead with goals from Sam Dobson and Sam McLachlan.

Connor McKenna then marked at 40 metres out in front, taking the pressure upon himself to kick a huge goal to regain the upper hand.

Shaun Edwards was daring in his run from the back half and was rewarded with a goal, getting on the end of a great passage of team footy and a handball from Grimley.

Langford’s goal all but killed off any Geelong chance, before Merrett converted after the siren.

Merrett was outstanding with three goals and 30 disposals, while Langford’s three goals and 20 touches was vital in the win.

See the Bombers fly up! #EssendonVFL #DonsFooty

A video posted by Essendon VFL (@essendonvfl) on May 7, 2016 at 12:42am PDT

Will Hams finished with 28 disposals in his comeback from a shoulder injury and Martin Gleeson looked good with 25 possessions in his VFL return.

Coach Matthew Egan said that the Bombers skill errors let the Cats into the game, but said he was pleased with the fight to prevail at the end.

“Losing the lead late in the fourth quarter we were a bit worried because Geelong do spread really hard and they are a really attacking team,” Egan said.

“The most pleasing part is the players were able to dig in and find a way to get over the line. It probably came from our contest ball, we started to use the ball quicker and getting them on the outside whereas before that it was probably the other way around.

“It wasn’t our best first half but we responded really well and come back to the team aspects a lot more in the second half.”

Egan praised the game of ruckman Mark Jamar who had 21 disposals and was a strong presence in the air and also McKenna whose run and skill started hurting the Cats in the second half.

Shaun Edwards put in his best performance of the season with 17 touches, but his ability to break lines particularly late in the game was a big factor in the win.

Captain Daniel Coghlan and Nick Kommer both finished with 20 disposals.

2015 draftee Alex Morgan played his first official game for the club after a long layoff with a hamstring injury, finishing with 14 disposals down back. 

Click back to essendonfc.com.au on Monday for more news and the coach’s wrap from the Bombers VFL.

Essendon 16.9 (105) defeated Geelong 12.12 (84).

Goals: Merrett 3, Langford 3, Edwards 2, Grimley 2, Coghlan, Gleeson, McKenna, Eades, Kommer, Nyuon 1.