Bombers re­cover to avoid heavy de­feat

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT -

AD­VER­SITY has yapped at Essendon’s heels for longer than it cares to re­mem­ber and, at half-time, the Bombers’ suf­fer­ing ap­peared cer­tain to plumb to fresh depths.

Re­stricted to its low­est half­time score in more than a cen­tury, Essendon teetered on the cusp of a mon­u­men­tal flog­ging at Eti­had Sta­dium.

Trail­ing by 50 points, it had been mer­ci­lessly pun­ished by a ruth­less and more ef­fi­cient North Mel­bourne and re­stricted to 0.4 at half-time.

Not since it man­aged only 0.3 against Colling­wood in 1915 had Essendon en­dured a lean- er open­ing to an AFL/VFL clash. The sec­ond half, ap­par­ently, was go­ing to nothing more than a cel­e­bra­tion march for the ram­pag­ing Kan­gas.

Wrong. Find­ing in­spi­ra­tion where there was ev­i­dently none, the Bombers charged home to cut a match-high deficit of 52 points to 14. The re­vival was not enough to pre­vent North un­leash­ing its best start to a sea­son since 1978 with an eighth suc­ces­sive win.

But John Wors­fold’s troops made a state­ment. A loud state­ment. The Bombers might lack pol­ish and co­he­sion but, re­gard­less of cir­cum­stance, they are no shirk­ers. And they proved as much by win­ning the sec­ond half — 8.8 to 2.8 — while send­ing rip­ples of anx­i­ety through un­beaten North.

Start­ing with gun on-ballers Todd Goldstein, Ben Cun­ning­ton and Brent Har­vey on the bench, the Kan­ga­roos swiftly as­serted its su­pe­ri­or­ity af­ter a slug­gish start.

Opt­ing for a tall for­ward line — Drew Petrie, Ben Brown, Jar­rad Waite and Ma­jak Daw (af­ter start­ing in the ruck) — North’s hopes of build­ing per­cent­age were ini­tially foiled by Essendon’s smoth­er­ing de­fence.

But once the Kan­gas hit full stride, the Bombers ap­peared to have no so­lu­tion to North’s on­slaught — un­til im­pres­sive Orazio Fan­ta­sia broke the drought early in the third term.

His goal marked the start of an ex­cel­lent re­vival as Essendon’s mix of cast-offs and in­ex­pe­ri­enced tal­ent com­bined to up­stage the league lead­ers.

Bren­don God­dard, James Kelly and Adam Cooney de­liv­ered the poise, while An­thony McDon­ald-Tipung­wuti, Mark Bag­u­ley, Craig Bird and Darcy Parish were among a host of younger play­ers to add sig­nif­cant dash. BEST UM­PIRES CROWD

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