A DEPLETED Essendon has consigned AFL rivals Carlton to more misery, thumping the Blues by 41 points in a wet-weather grind at the MCG.
Sunday’s 11.8 (74) to 4.9 (33) defeat leaves the Blues with four wins from their past 43 games and fourth-year coach Brendon Bolton under growing pressure.
Save for two Charlie Curnow majors in the third quarter, the Blues were held goalless after quarter-time in another dire showing.
Bombers skipper Dyson Heppell (36 disposals, seven clearances) starred in the midfield, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti booted three majors and Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker’s intercept marking was enormous down back.
Second-gamer Dylan Clarke was given the task of tagging Patrick Cripps and performed admirably, restricting Cripps to just 11 touches and gathering 23 of his own.
Ed Curnow’s tagging job on Zach Merrett (22 disposals) was similarly effective but Heppell, Darcy Parish and Matt Guelfi continued to find the footy.
Missing star quartet Dylan Shiel, Jake Stringer, Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia to injuries, the inconsistent Bombers looked ripe for the picking for a bottom- placed Blues side, desperate to bank their second win of the season.
But the tone was set in the opening minutes when Nic Newman’s kick-in went straight to Heppell to gift Essendon their first goal.
The Bombers led narrowly at quarter-time, kicked three goals to none in the second term and did enough from there to deny Carlton momentum.
By halftime, Carlton had 30 inside-50s but a score of just 2.4 as intercept- marking specialists Hurley and Hooker feasted on the Blues’ dismal kicking.
The Essendon duo had a combined 10 marks and 30 disposals by halftime.
In a season of close finishes, the fact Carlton scored 0.1 in the fourth quarter when the margin was just 21 points at three-quarter time will only add to the many criticisms of the club and Bolton’s coaching methods.
Bolton insisted his players hadn’t lost belief and were building resilience.
“The biggest worry is when you aren’t getting effort and, by and large, we’re getting effort,” he said.
“But we’re hurting ourselves – today in particular.”
Bombers coach John Worsfold was pleased with his side’s depth.
“If you’ve got injuries, you’ve got to make sure players are ready to come in that are in good form,” he said.
“Most of those players have been in really good form … it’s always nice to see them come in and get the reward.”
With veteran Dale Thomas exiled to the VFL for an off-field incident and Mitch McGovern and Kade Simpson unavailable, the Blues recalled forgotten recruits Darcy Lang and Alex Fasolo.
Lang finished with eight disposals and Fasolo six.
Bottom-placed Carlton host Brisbane on Saturday and face the Western Bulldogs in their final game before their mid-season bye.
© AAP 2019
ESSENDON 2.3 5.4 8.5 11.8 (74)
CARLTON 2.2 2.4 4.8 4.9 (33)
Goals: Essendon: A McDonald-Tipungwuti 3 D Parish 2 J Laverde 2 M Baguley 2 D Heppell K Langford. Carlton: C Curnow 2 H McKay M Kreuzer.
Best: Essendon: D Heppell D Clarke M Hurley C Hooker D Parish M Guelfi. Carlton: S Walsh E Curnow P Dow M Gibbons.
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Jacob Mollison, Justin Power.
Official Crowd: 50,423 at MCG.