Essendon has disgraced itself and put an enormous question mark over its ability to make the AFL finals with a 104-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
The shocking loss puts the Bombers’ coach John Worsfold back in the spotlight, with the loss even poorer than the effort against Port Adelaide last week.
“Weve hit a flat spot,” Worsfold told reporters after the game. “Pretty disappointing. Won’t be the first time it’s happened in the game and it won’t be the last … I’ve seen other teams go through it. [But] It is hard to explain.
The Bombers now must beat either Fremantle in Perth of Collingwood at the MCG to ensure they make the top eight.
Worsfold said it was a frustrating situation to be in after the Bombers looked home with five wins in a row.
“The message to players is that we deserve all the criticism we get … but that is not who we are,” he said.
You know that players always try and always put in their effort but for reasons that no one can ever explain there are days it just doesn’t work.
“It is very hard, we will have run the same distance at the same speeds as we pretty much do every week … but we just got badly beaten in all those areas.”
“The message to players is that we deserve all the criticism we get … but that is not who we are.”
The Bulldogs smashed the Bomber midfield at Marvel stadium, kicking 21 goals in a row in a 21.11 (137) to 4.9 (33) thumping.
The Dogs improved to a 10-10 record with the win and picked up six percentage points, while Essendon slipped to 11-9 in front of their home crowd of 41,806 fans.
Josh Dunkley and Jack Macrae led the charge with 39 and 38 possessions respectively, while Marcus Bontempelli was typically classy with 26 touches.
The rampant Dogs had 11 goal kickers in the mauling, Toby McLean, Bailey Dale, Josh Schache and Tory Dickson each booting three majors.
Zach Merrett started slowly but finished with 33 disposals, but the story was really the low numbers, with stars Jake Stringer (seven disposals) and Orazio Fantasia (eight) receiving Bronx cheers from dismayed fans when they touched the ball in the second half.
Dylan Shiel slotted the opening goal with just 23 seconds on the clock, but the Dogs were unstoppable from that point on.
Dunkley had 16 possessions and a goal by the first break as the Dogs leapt out to a 32-point lead.
That margin blew out to 54 points at halftime as the Bulldogs piled on seven unanswered goals. That became 89 points at three quarter time and it blew out to over 100 before the Bombers kicked the last three goals of the contest.
Magpies still in hunt for top four
Collingwood is still in the hunt for a top-four AFL finish after consigning Melbourne to more misery with a 17-point defeat at the MCG.
Midfield leaders Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom were the key architects of Saturday’s 10.10 (70) to 7.11 (53) victory, which lifted the Magpies to fourth on the ladder.
Pendlebury finished with 23 disposals and two goals, Sidebottom gathered 28 touches and Brody Mihocek booted four majors.
Melbourne kicked the last four goals of the game but Demons fans were again left frustrated after another turnover-laden performance by last year’s preliminary finalists.
Adding to the Demons’ woes, Steven May suffered another hamstring injury on return from a fortnight on the sidelines.
The key defender, playing his eighth game for the season, landed awkwardly in a fourth-quarter marking contest and limped off clutching his left hamstring.
Collingwood also went a man down late in the game when Josh Daicos (concussion) was ruled out.
Simon Goodwin’s men have managed just five wins this season.
Port Adelaide keep finals dream alive
Port Adelaide forwards Connor Rozee and Charlie Dixon have slotted three goals each in a 47-point thumping of Sydney which lifts the Power into the AFL’s top eight.
Port replace home-town rivals Adelaide in eighth spot after a vital 15.13 (103) to 7.14 (56) triumph on Saturday at Adelaide Oval.
The Power – level on wins with Adelaide and 0.3 per cent ahead – will keep the finals-bound ladder position should the Crows lose on Sunday to reigning premiers West Coast.
Port led Sydney by 15 points at halftime and booted three unanswered goals in less than four minutes early in the third term to effectively seal the win.
Rozee’s classy finishing was a highlight while Todd Marshall, Cam Sutcliffe and late inclusion Ollie Wines each kicked two goals.
Port’s defence, led by Darcy Byrne-Jones (28 disposals) and co-captain Tom Jonas (25 touches), was supreme while Paddy Ryder and Peter Ladhams ruled the rucks for a 49-24 hitout dominance.
Sydney’s Jake Lloyd was the standout for his side, earning 30 disposals including 10 rebounds from his defensive 50m area, and teammate Oliver Florent gathered 29 touches.
Brisbane Lions dominate in Q-clash
Charlie Cameron has kicked a career-high six goals to inspire Brisbane Lions’ record 91-point thumping of the Gold Coast at the Gabba on Saturday night, lifting the Lions provisionally to the top of the AFL table.
What was billed as a Q-Clash became the Charlie Cameron Show as the Lions livewire shone in the 22.12 (144) to 8.5 (53) romp – the Lions’ eighth straight victory – in a timely percentage booster in front of 22,538 fans.
Not content with earning their first finals berth in 10 years, Brisbane now have a top-two finish in sight with two regular season rounds left thanks to the club record rout of a sorry Suns.
Their victory easily beat their previous best win of 65 points over the Gold Coast in round four 2012.
Cats back in form with a win
Geelong held North Melbourne to the lowest score in the Kangaroos’ 95-year VFL/AFL history to win by 55 points at GMHBA Stadium and regain top spot on the ladder.
The Cats have been well below their best since the mid-season bye – winning four of eight games – and they didn’t reach any great heights on Saturday night either.
But they were still way too good for the dreadfully disappointing Kangaroos in a 9.15 (69) to 1.8 (14) victory.
Scoreboard-shy North Melbourne’s only goal came via a free kick from ruckman Todd Goldstein early in the second term.