Essendon has avoided a 0-4 start to the year for the first time since 1967, beating a relentless Adelaide outfit by four points in a Sunday afternoon thriller at Marvel Stadium.

In one of the matches of the year, and with the game still up for grabs in the final minute, the Ben Rutten-less Bombers prevailed 15.13 (103) to 15.9 (99).

03:01 Mins
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Rd 4 | Last two minutes

The thrilling final moments from our clash against the Crows.

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Darcy Parish (38 touches) was best afield, leading the way in the absence of Zach Merrett and Jake Stringer, while Peter Wright was again a handful for the opposition defence with three goals 

It took just over a minute for the first goal of the game to be registered, with Sam Durham converting his set shot from 35m out.

Wright was the star of the opening term, continuing his fine start to 2022. The 203cm forward had four disposals, took four marks (two contested) and kicked two goals.

The Bombers took a seven-point margin into the break after an entertaining first quarter, which saw the returning Taylor Walker (four goals) kick one of his side's four goals.

Essendon won clearances 13-8 and centre clearances 6-2, with Parish, Andrew McGrath (25 touches) and Jye Caldwell (23 disposals and a goal) all busy.

The teams traded goals early in the second quarter with Josh Rachele (three goals) adding his second after five minutes, before Mason Redman (19 touches and a goal) replied in quick succession. Walker dribbled through his second to cut the margin to two points.

Wright took a spectacular pack mark and then booted his third from the top of the goalsquare, before Caldwell added another just seconds later, as the Bombers skipped away to a 16-point lead.

The Crows got back to within two points, courtesy of goals to James Rowe (two goals) and Elliott Himmelberg (two goals), but Alec Waterman's (two goals) second major on the stroke of half-time handed them an eight-point edge at the main break.

The Bombers went into the second half without Will Snelling (calf), with medical sub Devon Smith (one goal) activated. And the 2018 Crichton Medal winner had an immediate impact, shooting out a handball to Nic Martin, who snapped truly.

07:51 Mins
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Rd 4 | Highlights

The Bombers and Crows clash in round four.

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Once again, the teams traded goals and neither side could take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Adelaide kicked four goals for the quarter to Essendon's three, but it was the Bombers who swung for home five points to the good.

With the game up for grabs, again the teams exchanged blows. The first goal of the final term came when Himmelberg booted his second, before Smith extend the Dons' margin to seven points.

Perkins sent Essendon fans into raptures when he coolly slotted his second, a goal on the run from 50m, which gifted his side a 10-point edge with eight minutes remaining.

But the Crows just wouldn't go away, and when Walker booted his fourth with five minutes on the clock, it was well and truly game on once again.

Sam Draper (one goal) appeared to be the unlikely hero when he kicked just the fourth goal of his career, but Lachlan Gollant (one goal) gave the Crows a pulse.

In the end, Essendon did enough to claw a crucial win and kept its season alive.

More to come.

00:21 Mins
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Rd 4 | Team song

Watch the Bombers celebrate their round four win

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ESSENDON          5.3          9.6          12.11     15.13 (103)
ADELAIDE            4.2          8.4          12.6        15.9 (99)

GOALS
Essendon: Wright 3, Perkins, Waterman 2, Caldwell, Draper, Durham, Guelfi, Martin, Phillips, Redman, Smith
Adelaide: Walker 4 Rachele 3, Himmelberg, Rowe 2, Gollant, Keays, McHenry, Sholl

BEST
Essendon: Parish, Wright, McGrath, Hind, Caldwell, Shiel
Adelaide: Keays, Crouch, Walker, Laird, Himmelberg, Rachele

INJURIES
Essendon: Snelling (calf)
Adelaide: Hinge (tbc)

SUBSTITUTES
Essendon: Devon Smith (replaced Will Snelling)
Adelaide: Brayden Cook (replaced Mitchell Hinge)

Crowd: TBC at Marvel Stadium