The first half was a real arm wrestle but Essendon managed to turn a three-point half-time lead into a 23-point advantage at three-quarter time thanks to a five-goals-to-two third term that busted the game open.
Essendon went on with it in the final quarter, too, as they extended their lead to 38 points. And while Hawthorn enjoyed a late flurry, the Bombers were more dangerous going forward all night and enjoyed superior efficiency in their attacking zone, which has been so sorely lacking for much of their season.
Essendon’s first goal of the game was an absolute pearler courtesy of Orazio Fantasia who calculatedly sized the big sticks up from 30 metres out and soccered the ball off the ground with precision through traffic and snuck it inside the goal post. It was a play that wouldn’t have been out of place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
IMPEY IN HOT WATER?
Jarman Impey might come under match review officer scrutiny for a head-high hit on Zach Merrett that left the Essendon midfielder dazed for a few moments early in the first quarter.
A SCALP FOR CLARKE
Essendon youngster must be thinking how easy is this AFL caper? After blanketing Carlton superstar Patrick Cripps in just his second AFL game, Clarke neutralised Hawthorn star Jaeger O’Meara in his third outing. The Bombers look like they’ve found a bona fide tagger.
Essendon had the game on their terms. In the first quarter, Conor McKenna thought he was back home in Ireland when he streamed out of defence and, while being chased by Dylan Moore, he kicked it to himself – known as a ‘solo’ in the Gaelic game – before kicking it further afield.
But they didn’t have it all their way. One of the more embarrassing moments of Essendon’s 2019 season – and there have been a few – occurred after the half-time siren when Puopolo unloaded from 48 metres out and his kick was allowed to bounce through on the goal line despite Essendon pair Michael Hurley and Matt Guelfi both outnumbering James Sicily, who barrelled Guelfi out of the way. Adam Saad and McKenna arrived too late but they weren’t in the goal square to neutralise the kick and ensure no score in the first place.
2.2 6.7 11.11 14.12 (96)
2.3 6.4 8.6 11.11 (77)
GOALS – Essendon: Begley 2, Stringer 2, Langford 2, Fantasia 2, Saad, Parish, Guelfi, McKernan, Bellchambers, Merrett.
Hawthorn: Impey 2, McEvoy, Glass, Moore, Ceglar, Gunston, Breust, Puopolo, Henderson, Scully.
BEST – Essendon: Hurley, Merrett, Heppell, Clarke, McKenna, Hooker, Saad.
Hawthorn: Impey, Worpel, Shiels, Smith, Henderson, Frawley
Essendon: Stringer (leg)
Meredith, Chamberlain, Fisher, Wallace.
44,846 at Marvel Stadium.