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Slick Dons defeat Lions

Rd 4 | Highlights The Bombers and Lions clash in round four.

THIS was the Essendon the footy public had been promised.

After a sluggish start to the year, John Worsfold's side delivered the type of slick, quick and potent display that had been advertised all summer at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

If last week was promising, this week's emphatic 47-point victory over Brisbane was a warning of just how fast Essendon could shift through the gears when required.

The Bombers' 17.10 (112) to 9.11 (65) win was an exhibition in just how lethal and damaging their slingshot style could be when they manage to get the game on their terms.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, so often a barometer for the Bombers, produced the standout display. His career best seven-goal haul, complementing 20 disposals and 10 marks, lifted the hosts and energised the crowd to put the Dons on the front foot.

 

Mitch Brown also chipped in to kick three goals from 25 disposals and 11 grabs.

Zach Merrett (35 disposals, seven clearances) and David Zaharakis (30 disposals, 10 marks) were the pick of the midfielders, while captain Dyson Heppell (22 disposals, four tackles) again produced in important moments to galvanise his side.

Brisbane, so promising to start the campaign, had no response. Its first loss for the year means there are no sides left undefeated in what is proving to be an even AFL season.

Brownlow Medal fancy Lachie Neale was still prolific, racking up 40 disposals, yet his impact was limited as the Bombers midfield got the upper hand from the outset.

In reality, that's where the damage was done, with the Dons putting their stamp on the contest within an hour-long blitz throughout an entertaining first half.

Essendon had started the game in a hurry. Breaking from stoppages with more speed, the Dons kicked six of the first seven goals to put an early yet significant gap on the Lions.

Brisbane was lucky it wasn't more. Essendon couldn't profit from a series of repeat entries later in the term, with the visitors fortunate to be within 30 points at the first change.

The pressure, particularly in Essendon's forward half of the ground, was relentless.

McDonald-Tipungwuti continued his strong form of the last fortnight, chasing and harassing at every contest, while some inventiveness from Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Mark Baguley close to goal led to a host of clever scoring opportunities.

It came as a dominant Bombers outfit stretched their lead to 49 points by half-time.

A feature of Brisbane's three straight victories to start the year had been its fast finishes, with the young Lions brave in holding their nerve to close out a series of tight matches.

Indeed, Brisbane attempted to make something out of nothing after the restart. It kicked four of six goals in the third term, but only managed to reduce a hefty deficit marginally.

Essendon's lead was never cut to under 28 points after half-time, with the Dons holding firm for an elementary second straight win to steady a rocky start to the year.

McDonald-Tipungwuti – who kicked three goals in the first half and four after the break – finished on the run for his seventh major of the afternoon, just beating the buzzer to put the cherry on top of what was an extremely satisfying performance from Essendon. 

MEDICAL ROOM

Essendon: David Zaharakis was put through some tests on the boundary in the final term, after appearing to cop a knock to the inside of his knee. However, he was able to play out the game without much fuss. David Myers came from the field with blood streaming from his head late in the game after copping a boot to the face from Eric Hipwood.

Brisbane: Lachie Neale and Dayne Zorko were both crunched on either side of half time, but each quickly shook off the attentions of trainers to remain on the field. 

NEXT UP

Essendon gets its first taste of Good Friday footy when it meets North Melbourne, while Brisbane has a five-day break before hosting Collingwood on Thursday night. 

ESSENDON    7.2    11.6     13.8     17.10 (112)

BRISBANE      2.2     3.5       7.8        9.11 (65)

GOALS

Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 7, Brown 3, Fantasia 2, McGrath 2, Baguley, Merrett, Stringer

Brisbane: McCluggage 2, McStay 2, McInerney, McCarthy, Mathieson, Berry, Hipwood

BEST

Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, Zaharakis, Brown, Hooker, Heppell

Brisbane: Neale, Berry, McCluggage, Witherden, Zorko

INJURIES

Essendon: Myers (lacerated face)

Brisbane: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Whetton, Mitchell

Official crowd: 48,289 at the MCG