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Magpies floored by dominant Dons

Callum Twomey (AFL Media)  July 8, 2017 5:00 PM

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Levi Greenwood is faced by two angry opponents after his third-quarter hit on Essendon's Zach Merrett. Picture: AFL Photos.

Essendon didn't need any extra motivation to hold onto a comfortable lead against Collingwood on Saturday given the Bombers' capitulations in the previous two weeks.

But when Magpie Levi Greenwood floored Bombers star Zach Merrett with a behind-the-play elbow in the third term that will draw the scrutiny of the Match Review Panel on Monday, there was no way Essendon was going to let another one slip.

The Bombers had a couple of scares in their 37-point win over the Pies on Saturday, but unlike their how-on-earth-did-they-lose-that games against Sydney and the Brisbane Lions, there was to be no repeat performance at the MCG.  

The 18.9 (117) to 12.8 (80) win, Essendon's seventh of the season, keeps alive its flickering finals hopes. It also ends any chance of Collingwood making a late surge to the top-eight while placing more pressure on coach Nathan Buckley.

Greenwood, who was sent to stop Merrett from the start of the game, appeared to strike Merrett to the chin early in the third term, forcing the 21-year-old off the field to undergo a concussion test.

The Bombers immediately remonstrated with the former Roo, before Merrett returned about 15 minutes later having cleared the test. His classy goal at the start of the final quarter went a long way to sealing the win. 



Orazio Fantasia was the star for the Bombers, lighting up the forward line with an equal career-high bag of five goals. James Kelly (32 disposals) offered a sure hand in defence, Dyson Heppell (32) was excellent through the midfield, Darcy Parish (28) had plenty of it, and David Zaharakis' run of good form continued with a game-high 38 disposals.

Steele Sidebottom was Collingwood's best with 26 disposals, but it was a largely uninspiring showing from the Pies.

Collingwood controlled things early in the first term, but two bad turnovers from Brayden Maynard in the back half got Essendon into its groove. The Bombers pounced on both kicks to then slot goals, beginning a five-goal run for the term to end it 15 points ahead.

The contrast in style was obvious from the get-go. While the Magpies chipped their way around the boundary line (they nearly doubled Essendon for uncontested marks in the first term), the Bombers played more directly as ruckman Tom Bellchambers booted two goals for the quarter.

Things opened up further for the Bombers in the second term, as they piled on four to two goals to take a 27-point lead into the main break.

Collingwood let itself down in the manner Collingwood often lets itself down. By foot it was wasteful and indirect, and aside from skipper Scott Pendlebury, it lacked the polish to keep up with the fast, quick and dangerous Bombers.

Essendon hasn't had any trouble scoring this season, having entered the clash averaging 94 points a game. And the addition of James Stewart has helped in that respect, with the former Giant booting two smart running goals in the second term against the Pies, who could have taken the son of former Collingwood player Craig under the father-son rule in 2012.

Stopping the opposition from scoring has proven more of a challenge for the Bombers, given they on average concede 92 points a game. But at half time against Collingwood they had things under control, with backmen Michael Hurley, Kelly and Andy McGrath among their best.

The third term was spiced up by the Greenwood incident and ensuing brawl, and Essendon looked set to run away with the game when they led by 34 points 10 minutes into the term. However, the Magpies kicked four of the next six goals to cut their deficit to 23 points at the final change and give themselves a sniff.

But Essendon wasn't going to let it happen again. Not again. Two goals in the opening two minutes of the final term drew curtains on the contest.

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Collingwood's players walk off the MCG after a disappointing loss to Essendon. Picture: AFL Photos.

MEDICAL ROOM
Collingwood: The Pies lost defensive playmaker Jeremy Howe before the game with calf tightness, so will be hoping he can make a speedy recovery. They appeared to get through the game without any serious issues.

Essendon: Zach Merrett spent some time in the rooms after being elbowed to the chin by Levi Greenwood in the third term. He underwent a concussion test but came back on the ground later in the quarter. Defender Marty Gleeson received a heavy knock late in a marking contest late in the third term but came back on the field in the last.

UP NEXT
Essendon takes on St Kilda at Etihad Stadium next Friday night in what could be a season-shaping game for both finals aspirants. The Pies travel to Metricon Stadium to play Gold Coast on Saturday.

COLLINGWOOD     2.3    4.6     9.7     12.8     (80)                  
ESSENDON            5.0    9.3     13.6    18.9   (117)          

GOALS
Collingwood: Fasolo 4, Elliott 3, Broomhead, Reid, Cox, De Goey, Adams
Essendon: Fantasia 5, Daniher 3, Bellchambers 2, Stewart 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, Zaharakis, Hooker, Merrett, Colyer

BEST 
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Elliott, Goldsack, Pendlebury
Essendon: Fantasia, Kelly, Watson, Bellchambers, Parish, Merrett, Heppell, Zaharakis

INJURIES 
Collingwood: Jeremy Howe (calf) replaced in selected side by Matt Scharenberg
Essendon: Michael Hartley (corked thigh)

Reports: Nil
Umpires: Foot, Rosebury, Jeffery
Official crowd: 63,537 at the MCG