Less than three weeks after arriving on the starting line set for a deep September run, Essendon is facing a long road back after starting the season 0-3 for the first time since 1967.

The Bombers produced a much better showing than across the first fortnight against Melbourne on Friday night, but the loss still leaves them in a position only three teams have overcome to play finals since 2010.

While it wasn’t pretty, the Demons continued their perfect start to 2022 with an imperfect performance at the MCG, extending their winning streak to 10 straight dating back to round 19 last season.

06:32 Mins
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Rd 3 | Highlights

The Bombers and Demons clash in round three.

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The first half might have caused some at home to flick the channel to the Showdown at Adelaide Oval, but those who stuck with it were rewarded with a captivating second half played in front of the newly named Shane Warne Stand. 

After only seven goals combined were kicked in a dour opening half, both sides slotted five each in the third quarter to set the scene for a thrilling final term.

But it wasn’t to be for Essendon, despite a dogged effort in the last quarter. Melbourne threatened to run away with the game, but the Bombers stayed within striking distance yet just beyond reach until the final siren confirmed a 29-point win for the reigning premiers.

00:38 Mins
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Rd 3 | Wanganeen sends the 'G into frenzy

Tex Wanganeen draws a massive reaction from the Bomber faithful and father Gavin after his first AFL goal.

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Melbourne wingman Ed Langdon landed a killer blow under immense pressure from three Bombers covering every exit with five minutes to play, slotting a mongrel floater from deep in the pocket to put the game to bed.

While Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and Langdon amassed massive numbers, the night was all about two maligned key forwards who have taken some time to leave their mark on the game.

Both were taken inside the top-10 in the draft – one at No. 8, the other at No. 9 – and both finished with four goals to steal the show.

Peter Wright continued his career resurgence since round 10 last season, adding four majors to follow up a dominant patch against Brisbane last weekend that finished with three goals and 11 marks, moving to nine for the season from three starts.

11:07 Mins
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Rd 3 | Rutten post-game

Watch Ben Rutten's press conference after our round three match against Melbourne.

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But it was Sam Weideman at the other end of the ground who grasped his first opportunity since round 13 last season, kicking 4.3 from seven marks after being a late inclusion for Ben Brown, who entered health and safety protocols on Friday.

Now the focus will be on how Goodwin fits Weideman into the same forward line as Tom McDonald and Brown when the former North Melbourne full forward is next available for selection.

It won't be in round four, given that game is only six days away at Adelaide Oval against Port Adelaide. But it will be a question Melbourne's match committee faces sooner rather than later. It is a problem the undefeated Demons will relish.

01:59 Mins
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Rd 3 | Guelfi post-game

We speak with utility Matt Guelfi after the clash against the Demons.

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MELBOURNE    3.5    4.8    10.12    14.15 (99)
ESSENDON       0.4    3.5     9.5      10.10 (70)

Melbourne: Weideman 4, Harmes 2, Fritsch 2, Langdon, McDonald, Petracca, Spargo, Sparrow, Viney
Essendon: Wright 4, Stringer 2, Cutler, McGrath, Perkins, Wanganeen

Melbourne: Oliver, Brayshaw, Weideman, Langdon, Harmes, May
Essendon: Shiel, Parish, Wright, Ridley, Heppell

Melbourne: None
Essendon: None

Melbourne: Toby Bedford (unused)
Essendon: Devon Smith (unused)

Crowd: 44,503