Bombers beat Dogs by 49 points - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers beat Dogs by 49 points

Guy Hand 13/08/2011 11:25:15 PM Comments (0)

As others around the fringe of the top eight stumbled, Essendon took a giant step towards the AFL finals with a 49-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

With St Kilda and Fremantle losing this weekend, the Bombers' 23.12 (150) to 15.11 (101) win has now put them on the verge of finals in coach James Hird's first season in charge.

Essendon will stay in the top eight regardless of the rest of the weekend's results, while defeat extinguished the Bulldogs' slim hopes of making the finals.

The Bombers are now likely to need only one more victory in their remaining two games to secure a finals berth.

But what appeared to be a regulation victory at halftime proved a stiff test of the Bombers' resolve as the Bulldogs launched a huge third quarter fightback.

Trailing by 55 points early in the term, youngsters Callan Ward and Luke Dahlhaus sparked the dormant Dogs into life with two goals apiece and energy at every loose ball as the Bombers stopped to a walk.

Five successive goals in the quarter helped bring them to within 23 points.

They could have been closer had the otherwise excellent Barry Hall booted truly from two gettable set shots amid a frenzy of Bulldogs inside-50s.

But eventually Essendon steadied with the last three goals of the third term to re-establish control built with seven goals in each of the first two quarters.

That blitz helped the Bombers to a 48-point halftime lead, with Michael Hurley booting three of his four goals in the half and midfielder Brent Stanton running riot.

Stanton's 20 first-half touches built into 39 for the match along with two goals in a best-afield performance, while veteran Dustin Fletcher was again outstanding in the backline.

Hall was outstanding for the Dogs with his six goals giving him 21 in his past four matches, as was the busy Ward with 22 disposals.

The Bulldogs also lost experienced defender Dale Morris to a suspected broken leg in the final term.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade confirmed Morris had broken his leg, but it would be at least Sunday before the scale of the break was known.

"We thought it might have been a 12-month job, then we were told it might be by Christmas, then it might not be a compound fracture so maybe 12 to 16 weeks ... but that's best-case scenario," Eade said.

"We don't really know at this stage."

The Bulldogs may also lose experienced defender Ryan Hargrave for next weekend's clash with Port Adelaide after he injured his back during the match.

Hird said he was thrilled with his players' ability to soak up the Bulldogs' relentless third quarter pressure after such a tough win over Sydney the previous week.

"They came at us for a while and I just think it was a great sign from our guys," Hird said.

"After a really tough game last week I was concerned how we'd back up this week and out start was probably the reason we won that game."

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