Footscray have replaced Essendon in the Peter Jackson VFL top four after accounting for the Bombers by 22 points in round 16 at the VU Whitten Oval. In a tight contest played in blustery conditions the Bulldogs responded after a slow start to wear down the Bombers winning 11.10.76 to 7.12.54.
High profile forward Tom Boyd (above) booted three goals including two into the wind in the third quarter when the Bulldogs managed to give the Bombers the slip. Lin Jong (26 disposals) and Jordan Kelly (20) worked hard through the midfield while Jordan Russell (34) and Roarke Smith (21) in defence cleaned up many of the Essendon attacks.
It was the Bombers however who found momentum early, kicking with the wind towards the Geelong road end booting four goals to two to lead by 14 points at the first break. Courtney Dempsey found himself in a new role for the Bombers playing forward and it paid dividends with two first term goals.
The Bulldogs were finding the footy but their ball use was untidy and experienced Bombers like Paul Chapman and Dempsey made the most of it. Footscray worked hard in the second quarter to hold Essendon to just the one behind and just before half-time they hit the front thanks to a long goal from Daniel Pearce to go into the main break five points up.
It wasn't long before Boyd was on the board after the restart to extend the Dog's lead. Essendon would rue missed opportunities with the wind in the term, Kyle Hardingham having two shots on goal late in the quarter, one hitting the post, which could have had them closer if not in front.
However thanks to goals again from Boyd and Nick Jamieson, Footscray held sway at the final change by 12 points.Tayte Pears and Ben McNiece worked hard down back for the Bombers and Connor McKenna chipped in with his second during the term however Footscray looked to have the edge kicking with the wind in the final quarter.
Goals were hard to come by in the last but Footscray's Jong got the crowd to their feet when he burst clear through the centre with the footy brushing off opponents to handball over the top to Jamieson who in turn found Will Hayes who goaled to make the difference 17 points and Essendon's task was almost beyond reach.Boyd putting the final nail in the coffin in time-on with his third to see the Bulldogs home and regain a spot in the top four.
The fight for places in the top eight continues in round seventeen when Footscray make the trip to Burbank Oval to take on western suburb rival and ladder leaders Williamstown in what should be a classic contest. Essendon return to Windy Hill to host fellow finals contender Werribee with both sides looking to keep their top four hopes alive.
For full scoreboard click here