Fans Furious After Essendon Smashed By 104 Points By Bulldogs
Essendon coach John Worsfold and his players have no option but to cop every bit of the avalanche of criticism that comes their way after their diabolical display in a 104-point thrashing by the Western Bulldogs.
Saturday night's clash at Marvel Stadium was billed as a virtual elimination final for the Dogs, but it was the Bombers' season that appeared to suffer a fatal blow.
The ballistic Bulldogs smashed the listless Dons in a midfield masterclass that saw them boot 21 goals in a row in a 21.11 (137) to 4.9 (33) thumping.
Essendon remained in seventh spot after the mauling, but their percentage took another pounding on the back of last week's big loss to Port Adelaide.
Plenty will come hard for the coach and his team in the aftermath, but Worsfold refused to unload on his players despite the poor showing.
"The message to the players is that we deserve all the criticism that we get for what we dished up tonight, but that's not who we are," Worsfold said.
"So don't put your head down and think that when people rip into you for how you played tonight, that that is who you are.
"These guys have represented Essendon brilliantly for a big part of this year so far and had some wonderful wins, (but) we've had a poor loss.
"So we'll cop the criticism for tonight's effort, but we'll focus on where we want to get to as a team."
The coach is adamant the problems that currently trouble his squad aren't beyond repair, with pivotal games against Fremantle in Perth and Collingwood at the MCG to come.
Worsfold's position came under scrutiny before a five-game winning streak but he remains entirely comfortable with his place at the club despite renewed speculation.
"There's no doubt that at times tonight you think 'This is a brutal game and this is not that much fun'," he said.
"But I've been there before and taken teams through that and learnt from it and they've become great teams.
"I'm more than comfortable that I've done it before, I know how to do it, and will do it again."
The Dogs improved to a 10-10 record with the win and picked up six percentage points, while Essendon slipped to 11-9 in front of their home crowd of 41,806 fans.
"I don't think we've ever beaten anyone by 100 points since I've coached the boys so it's quite satisfying," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
"We let a few (goals) through late but other than that it was pretty impressive."
"It was a big night with a lot on the line, let's face it."
"We'd love to get there (to finals) and we know we've got to win all three (games) ... it was a tremendous performance by the boys."
Josh Dunkley and Jack Macrae led the charge with 39 and 38 possessions respectively, while Marcus Bontempelli was typically classy with 26 touches.
The rampant Dogs had 11 goal kickers in the mauling, Toby McLean, Bailey Dale, Josh Schache and Tory Dickson each booting three majors.
Essendon actually started brilliantly, Dylan Shiel slotting the opening goal with just 23 seconds on the clock, but the Dogs were largely unstoppable from that point on.
Dunkley had 16 possessions and a goal by the first break as the Dogs leapt out to a 32-point lead.
That margin blew out to 54 points at halftime as the Bulldogs piled on seven unanswered goals.
A bad night got worse for the Bombers after the break, with horrendous turnovers gifting the Dogs the first two majors of the second half, with the margin 89 points at three-quarter time as their scoring drought continued.
The Bulldogs cheer squad wryly applauded Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti's goal with just over four minutes remaining in his side's nightmare, the Bombers kicking the last three goals of the contest.