Bombers ease pressure on coach with win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers ease pressure on coach with win

By Sam Lienert 25/07/2010 08:14:51 AM Comments (0)

Essendon have eased the pressure on embattled coach Matthew Knights with a fighting 18.14 (122) to 18.11 (119) AFL win over an injury-hit North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The Bombers, who entered the game on a six-match losing streak, led for most of the night, and were 15 points in front in time-on in the third term, before the Kangaroos hit back.

They kicked the final two goals of the third quarter, then two more early in the final term to take a nine-point lead.

But the Bombers fought desperately to kick five of the next seven goals and lead by 11 points themselves early in time-on.

They then had to survive a desperate final few minutes, as the Kangaroos narrowly missed with several chances which could have helped them reel in the lead.

North's Andrew Swallow, Lachie Hansen and Todd Goldstein all missed shots at goal, while skipper Brent Harvey was caught holding the ball by Courtenay Dempsey 15m out, with a chance to narrow the gap to three points with two minutes left.

Levi Greenwood did cut the margin to three with 35 seconds left on the clock, after catching Essendon skipper Jobe Watson holding the ball.

Harvey then sent the Kangaroos forward once more from the centre bounce, but Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher was able to gather in defence and find Watson with a clearing kick, allowing the Bombers to run down the closing seconds.

It was a costly loss for the Kangaroos and could prove a killer blow to their finals chances, after they started the round in ninth spot and outside the top eight only on percentage.

Watson was superb for the Bombers, finishing with 38 disposals, two goals and nine clearances to help deliver his coach a much-needed victory.

Fellow midfielder Jason Winderlich also impressed, while Michael Hurley and Fletcher were strong in defence, and first-gamer Kyle Hardingham proved a livewire with four goals, including a crucial last-term major after a huge goalsquare mark.

Harvey was outstanding for the Kangaroos, with 30 touches, with fellow midfielders Andrew Swallow and Levi Greenwood also influential, along with ruckman Hamish McIntosh.

Forward Aaron Edwards kicked four majors, as well as taking a mark of the year contender on the wing in the second term to help set up another major.

The Kangaroos were hit hard before the game by injury withdrawals, with all three emergencies needing to come into the side.

Defenders Nathan Grima (quad) and Daniel Pratt (hamstring) were the initial withdrawals, replaced by first-gamer Ben Speight and Leigh Harding.

They suffered a further blow, when Daniel Wells injured a quad in the warm-up minutes before the start of the match.

It meant David Hale, who played VFL earlier in the day, had to be called up, and he did not arrive until 12 minutes into the match, the Kangaroos starting the game with only 21 players.

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