Essendon’s AFL injury crisis has escalated with Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel joining the casualty list in a 23-point loss to Richmond in the Dreamtime at the MCG game.
The Bombers threatened a late comeback before the Tigers ran out 10.13 (73) to 6.14 (50) winners in front of 80,176 fans on Saturday night at a sodden MCG.
But the injuries to Stringer and Shiel threaten to further derail the Bombers’ season.
The mercurial Stringer clutched at his left hamstring late in the second quarter, left the ground and played no further part in the game.
Star recruit Shiel also went down to the Essendon rooms in the fourth quarter and re-emerged with his right hamstring iced up.
With Joe Daniher (groin) and Devon Smith (knee) out for the rest of the season, Orazio Fantasia (quad) several weeks away and the Bombers battling on four wins and six losses, it was the last thing coach John Worsfold needed.
Essendon surged to life late in the game and booted five of the last seven goals – three from Kyle Langford – but Bombers fans would have been wondering where the intensity had been for the first three quarters.
Richmond also had an injury concern with key forward Tom Lynch sitting out the last quarter with a suspected knee issue.
Bachar Houli (37 disposals, six marks) won the Yiooken Award as best-afield for his prolific performance down back as the Tigers climbed to third on the ladder.
Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin was also superb with 35 disposals and seven clearances, as was indigenous star Shane Edwards.
Persistent showers that began hours before the game made for slippery conditions which the Tigers’ small forwards appeared to relish, with Jason Castagna (two goals), Jack Higgins (two) and Liam Baker (one) all influential.
Inaccuracy had been a persistent issue for the Bombers and again they failed to finish their work, exemplified by Stringer’s wayward set shot after Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti’s superb rundown tackle on Martin early in the game.
Richmond led by six goals at three-quarter time before withstanding the Bombers’ comeback to claim their fifth-successive Dreamtime win.
Clarkson hails Gunston’s six-goal game
Hawthorn’s Jack Gunston has been hailed by his coach as “the difference” after a six-goal showing in the Hawks’ 31-point AFL win over Port Adelaide in Launceston.
The Hawks kept a sloppy Power scoreless in Saturday afternoon’s opening quarter, before closing out a 12.8 (80) to 6.13 (49) victory to remain firmly in the top-eight mix.
Gunston, who equalled his best-career haul, slotted the opening two majors and picked up 21 disposals and nine marks in a starring performance.
The 27-year-old also showed off some soccer skills, with his fourth coming from an outside right boot that nudged the ball around the goal post.
“He was probably the difference between the two sides,” Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.
On a pretty grubby day, his polish with the ball in the front third was pretty important.
“One guy has kicked six goals where there were 18 for the game – that’s pretty significant.”
Eagles best Crows in stirring comeback
West Coast coach Adam Simpson is hailing his players’ heart to rise from the canvas in a stirring 12-point AFL win against Adelaide.
The Eagles came from 33 points down in the third quarter to prevail 13.7 (85) to 10.13 (73) in Saturday’s Adelaide Oval twilight game.
West Coast’s stunning comeback featured 10 of the last dozen goals of the match to consolidate their top-four spot.
“There’s evidence we have got pretty good resilience among our players over the course of the last 18 months,” Simpson said.
“We have got a pretty mature group, that is the one benefit of going through a bit of a journey with our players.”
Gold Coast take Cats to the edge
Geelong survived a massive scare from the tough tackling Gold Coast before running out 27-point winners at Metricon Stadium.
The Suns trailed the AFL ladder-leading Cats by only two points at the final break, but four unanswered goals in the final quarter was enough to hand them 13.13 (91) to 9.10 (64) victory.
Key forward Tom Hawkins’ four-goal haul was instrumental for the Cats, including the first two of the last quarter to help seal the game, while Tim Kelly again starred with 35 influential disposals.
The ladder-leading Cats were also well supported by Cameron Guthrie (21 possessions, 11 tackles), Mitch Duncan (two goals, 27 disposals, eight tackles) and Gary Ablett, who worked his way into the game after a quiet start, scoring two goals.
The former Suns captain was booed by the 13,144 strong Gold Coast crowd and let his frustration boil over late in the third quarter when he gave away an off-the-ball free kick for what appeared to be high hit on Anthony Miles.
Suns co-captains David Swallow (29 disposals) and Jarrod Witts (51 hit outs) starred for the home team, while Alex Sexton (three goals) was a threat in front of goal.