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Bombers shine without stars

16/05/2003 10:30:04 PM Comments (0)

Robbed of its stars by injury and coming off a dreadful performance last week, Essendon discovered its resolve and form to down a dismal Hawthorn by 53 points.

The Bombers were forced to leave out captain James Hird (calf) and leading goalkicker Matthew Lloyd (groin) from the selected side, adding to the absence of the likes of Dustin Fletcher, Adam Ramanauskas and Dean Rioli.

But a vintage performance by Mark Mercuri sparked the Dons into a 15.16 (106) to 8.5 (53) win that will do much to revive Essendon hopes the club can yet be a threat in 2003.

It was the first time Hawthorn had lost successive games this season, and coach Peter Schwab - who showed signs of struggling with the pressure during the week - now faces an unenviable task to lift a team bereft of confidence and unwilling to put in the requisite effort.

The Hawks dominated the first quarter hour of the match, but Nick Holland missed a couple of shots that could have given them a four-goal lead midway through the first term.

Instead it was Essendon, with Mark Johnson as the midfield catalyst, that led by two goals at the first break.

Hawthorn looked better early in the second term, but by halftime they could thank the Dons profligate finishing for being only three goals down at the main break.

Mark Mercuri turned the clock back to 1999 with a sparkling performance that suggested his seemingly terminal decline was yet reversible in the twilight of his career, and answered his growing army of critics, which included coach Kevin Sheedy.

The Bombers were not well equipped enough to smash the woefully inadequate Hawthorn, but gradually eked away throughout the second half as the losers scored just once in the final term.

Sean Wellman was cool in defence for Essendon, ruckman David Hille and Steve Alessio combined well, while Damien Peverill and Mark McVeigh toiled effectively in midfield.

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