Lightning strikes as Dons hold off Eagles

Lightning strikes as Dons hold off Eagles

TIM Kelly’s debut for West Coast and a six-goal haul from Josh Kennedy were overshadowed by a rare lightning break as a depleted Essendon posted an eight-point pre-season win in Perth.

The Bombers were leading by 13 points when play was stopped five minutes into the second term because of an electrical storm.

Flashes of lightning had crept closer and closer to Mineral Resources Park, and the decision was made to temporarily halt play for player safety.

Both teams made their way into the change rooms during the pause, with play resuming 20 minutes later.

Essendon went on to win the match 14.11 (95) to 13.9 (87) despite Kennedy’s heroics.

Kennedy marked strongly and kicked truly in the wet and windy conditions in front of 4302 fans, showcasing he is far from a spent force.

Kelly, in his first game for the Eagles since his high-profile switch from Geelong, tallied 27 disposals, six clearances, and a goal.

The 25-year-old’s disposals were wayward at times due to the tough conditions, but he fought back well from a quiet first half.

West Coast defender Will Schofield faces a nervous wait to see if he is punished for his heavy bump that flattened Dylan Shiel.

And Essendon’s Devon Smith might also be under scrutiny for his high hit on Jackson Nelson off the ball.

Eagles big man Nic Naitanui, playing his first pre-season game in four years, dominated the ruck contest, finishing with 28 hit-outs, 11 possessions, and three clearances before being put on ice.

Darcy Parish tallied 29 disposals for the Bombers, while Dylan Shield and Kyle Langford were also prominent.

Both sides entered the match missing a host of stars.

West Coast was without Jeremy McGovern, Jack Darling, Andrew Gaff, Brad Sheppard, and Oscar Allen.

Essendon was minus Joe Daniher, Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker, Tom Bellchambers, Conor McKenna, Patrick Ambrose, Adam Saad, and Jake Stringer.

West Coast was aided by a strong swirly breeze in the opening term, but Essendon defied the conditions to boot three of the first four goals.

The Bombers’ accuracy was also remarkable, with the visitors registering 5.0 until two late rushed behinds saw them finish the term with 5.2 to their name.

The much-hyped Naitanui-Kelly combination bore fruit early in the match.

Naitanui’s perfectly-weighted tap was snapped up by Kelly, who broke free of the pack to give West Coast a clean clearance.

The lightning break in the second quarter added intrigue to the match, with neither side able to break away after play resumed.

Kelly had just eight disposals to his name by half-time but exploded in the third quarter with 13 possessions.

Essendon led by 25 points at the final change, and only just survived a Kennedy-inspired West Coast fightback in the last quarter.

© AAP 2020

ESSENDON 5.3 7.5 12.9 14.11 (95)

WEST COAST 2.2 5.6 8.8 13.9 (87)

Goals: Essendon: A McDonald-Tipungwuti 2 J Laverde 2 W Snelling 2 A Phillips D Parish D Smith H Jones I Mosquito K Langford S McKernan Z Merrett. West Coast: J Kennedy 6 J Waterman 3 B Ah Chee B Williams J Petruccelle T Kelly.

Official Crowd: 4,302 at Mineral Resources Park.