Essendon VFL overcame a 41-point second-quarter deficit to record a stirring three-point win over Carlton at Windy Hill on Sunday.

Responding to Dylan Shiel’s opening goal within the first 20 seconds, the Blues dominated large portions of the first half and sliced through the Dons with quick ball movement, establishing the game-high lead halfway through the second term.


With their backs against the wall, the Bombers came out firing after half-time, mowing down Carlton’s lead with an avalanche of six unanswered goals.

Despite receiving heavy defensive attention, Nate Caddy imposed himself on the contest with two goals in quick succession to get the Dons going, before mid-season draftee Saad El-Hawli introduced himself to the Bomber faithful with an inspiring burst of play.

Having already hit the scoreboard early in the day, El-Hawli pushed forward to boot another three goals in the space of 10 minutes, twice restoring the Bombers’ lead and igniting the Windy Hill crowd.


With tensions boiling over ahead of the final change and rain falling in the west, the stage was set for a tense final term where the Dons needed a late surge to complete their comeback.

Caddy again slotted the all-important first goal of the quarter, leading to an arm wrestle in the ensuing 10 minutes.

The move of Will Hoare to the forward line gave good aerial representation for the Dons, but they were still pressing to find a score with the Blues holding a two-goal lead at the halfway mark of the final term.


A long-range bomb from Bailey Scott trimmed the lead to just five points before Tex Wanganeen landed the knockout blow with a moment of individual brilliance, weaving out of a tackle and kicking a goal on the run from outside the arc.

With cool heads needed in the dying minutes, Sam Weideman and Lewis Hayes stood up with crunch intercept marks in defence as the Bombers held firm to secure the win.

Weideman was particularly strong throughout the course of the second half and showed great command in the air, continuing his good form and developing nicely as a defensive option.

El-Hawli was a clear best-on-ground in his second game in club colours, finishing with four goals from 27 disposals in an electric display of his talent, while Caddy’s three goals made huge impact.

In the middle, skipper Xavier O’Neill (33 touches) and Scott (26 touches) were prime movers for the Dons, while Shiel finished with 10 clearances from his 18 disposals to help the side stay within touching distance in the opening half.

Nick Bryan (39 hit-outs, 22 touches) was again dominant in the ruck and around the ground, while the spark of the Davey twins ahead of the ball helped create several scoring opportunities throughout.

The VFL Bombers share a bye with the AFL side next week before travelling to the Gold Coast to face the Suns on Saturday, June 22.

ESSENDON     2.2     6.4     13.5    16.8   (104)
CARLTON      7.2     12.3     15.5     16.5  (101)

El-Hawli 4, Caddy 3, J. Davey 2, Wanganeen, Shiel, Scott, Peris, Hately, Eckersley, A. Davey

El-Hawli, Scott, Caddy, O'Neill, Bryan, Weideman