Nick Bryan contests a ruck duel with Geelong's Josh Jenkins in Friday's VFL loss. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Essendon VFL suffered a 75-point loss in its curtain-raiser clash against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Friday.

From the outset it was clear the Bombers were in for a tough game against the Cats, who brought the intensity and momentum needed to run away with a 16.6 (102) to 3.9 (27) victory.


Ned Cahill, who has been impressive up forward in recent weeks, snapped a goal in the first few minutes of the first term, putting the Dons on the scoreboard in what would eventually turn out to be their only goal of the quarter.

Geelong was dominating time spent in its inside 50 (19 inside 50s to the Essendon's five in the first term), but defensive duo Zach Reid and Josh Eyre were doing their best to hold down the fort in the backline.

Sam Durham and Max Simpson applied strong pressure in the midfield, smothering the ball whenever they could in wet conditions.

But the Bombers' defensive efforts weren't enough to unsettle the Cats, who outscored the Dons six goals to one for a 33-point lead at quarter-time.

Returning midfielder Dylan Clarke made an appearance in the second term, and was quickly instrumental in setting up an inside-50 entry which allowed Daniel Thompson to take a clean mark and secure a goal for Essendon.

Dylan Clarke earns one of his 25 disposals. (Photo: AFL Photos)

But similarly to the first quarter, the promising start did not last long for the Dons, with the Cats scoring the next five unanswered goals.

The Bombers continued to make skill-based errors which resulted in turnovers. Geelong was able to take advantage of Essendon's easy kicks, repeatedly intercepting the ball.

The Cats were all over the Dons, heading into the main break with a 56-point lead.

Heavy rain started to fall in the third quarter, hindering playing conditions and seeing both teams nab just one goal apiece in the term.

The final term saw some opportunities to hit the scoreboard for the Dons, but they were all unsuccessful as Geelong’s strong forward pressure continued to dominate. The Bombers were left goalless in the last quarter as the Cats took home a 75-point win.

With the VFL Dons sitting 19th on the ladder, the round 12 match was the team's third loss in a row.

The Bombers have a bye next week but will look to return to the winner's list when they take on North Melbourne in round 14.

Injured Bombers return 

Round 12 saw the return of injured midfielder Dylan Clarke, who played his first game of the season after being sidelined since January due to a serious ankle injury.

Clarke made an appearance in the second term and was quickly impressive in his first game back. He was an ever-present in the midfield, aiding the ball towards the Dons' forward line, but was also strong in defence with six tackles. He produced a fantastic effort to end the game on 25 disposals.

Danny Younan also made a return from a shoulder injury that he sustained in round three.

The co-captain applied excellent defensive pressure in midfield for a total of seven tackles.

Co-captain Danny Younan played his first game since round three. (Photo: AFL Photos)

O'Kearney continues to impress

Nick O’Kearney continued his upward momentum in this week's game against the Cats and held top spot on the Dons' disposal list with 33 touches. 

From the get-go, O’Kearney came to play with intensity and pressure. He held a strong presence throughout the game and was crucial in steering the ball to the Dons' forward half.

His defensive efforts (eight tackles) were strong in midfield.

GEELONG 6.3 11.4 12.6 16.6 (102)
ESSENDON 1.0 2.2 3.4 3.9 (27)

Goals: Cahill, Bryan, Thompson

Disposals: O’Kearney 33, Clarke 25, Atley 23, Zerk-Thatcher 20