ZACH Merrett’s midfield mastery has helped Essendon to a gritty three-point triumph against Adelaide in Sunday’s AFL match.
Merrett collected 33 disposals in the 9.8 (62) to 8.11 (59) victory at Adelaide Oval which lifts the Bombers to fifth on the ladder.
The Crows remain winless – their club-record losing streak extends to 11 games across two seasons.
And Adelaide’s acting captain Tom Doedee and prime mover Brad Crouch both suffered hamstring injuries.
Essendon’s Merrett was a standout in his club’s fifth win of the season, heading a dominant midfield featuring Ashley McGrath (25 possessions) and David Zaharakis (20 touches).
Teammates Darcy Parish (22 disposals, one goal) was also prominent, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Kyle Langford and Ned Cahill each booted two goals.
Adelaide halfback Will Hamill (17 disposals) continued his impressive first AFL season and forwards Lachlan Murphy (three goals) and Taylor Walker (two) threatened.
Crows onballer Ben Keays (22 disposals), Paul Seedsman (22 touches, one goal) and Brodie Smith (24 possessions) also were influential.
Adelaide’s Matt Crouch and Essendon’s Jacob Townsend were both reported for rough conduct when tangling moments after the halftime siren.
The pair faced off and were pulling each other’s jumpers when their heads clashed.
The altercation came as the Bombers, despite losing attacker Jayden Laverde to a leg injury, took a seven-point lead after a scrappy opening half.
Both teams scored three goals in a tight third term – the Bombers crafted a 17-point buffer before late majors to the Crows left them only six points adrift at the last change.
Essendon’s Cahill slotted his second goal to extend the margin to 12 points before Adelaide’s Murphy responded in the 17th minute with what proved to be the final goal of the game.
The Crows had a series of late scoring chances to pinch victory but Murphy, Seedsman and Smith all couldn’t convert.
Essendon next meets Brisbane on Friday night, on the Gold Coast, while the Crows play fellow strugglers North Melbourne on Saturday, also on the Gold Coast.
(C) AAP 2020
ESSENDON 2.1 5.4 8.5 9.8 (62)
ADELAIDE 2.1 4.3 7.5 8.11 (59)
Goals: Essendon: A McDonald-Tipungwuti 2 K Langford 2 N Cahill 2 D Parish J Laverde J Townsend. Adelaide: L Murphy 3 T Walker 2 B Smith P Seedsman T Stengle.
Umpires: Brent Wallace, Hayden Gavine, Alex Whetton.