GREATER Western Sydney showed some welcome fighting spirit, but Essendon still comfortably won the day following a 39-point victory at Skoda Stadium on Saturday.
The Giants faced a week of intense scrutiny following last week's inept performance against the Sydney Swans, but in front of a season-best crowd at the venue of 10,783, won back some admirers in a 18.8 (116) to 11.11 (77) defeat.
The visiting Bombers simply had too much class and skill however, failing to pick up the percentage boost some teams have enjoyed against the Giants but still ensuring they remain firmly in the AFL's top four.
Essendon coach James Hird was satisfied with the performance, but knows his side needs to step up in the coming weeks, with games against Hawthorn and Collingwood on the horizon.
"I think we have to improve if we still want to compete with the best teams in the competition," he said.
"We have been down in a few areas in the last five or six weeks.
"If we can play like that against the better teams, I think anything can happen.
"Six games to go, we're 13 wins, and we're enjoying winning games of football."
In an entertaining battle, Essendon youngster Travis Colyer bobbed up with a team-high four goals and Jake Melksham, David Myers and Brent Stanton were influential through the middle of the ground.
Essendon ruck duo Paddy Ryder and Tom Bellchambers also had a tough afternoon against Jonathan Giles and the returning Dean Brogan.
Jeremy Cameron kicked another four goals to take his tally for the season to 43, while Giles (four goals), Adam Tomlinson and Nick Haynes impressed and Mark Whiley did a terrific blanketing job on Dyson Heppell.
The Giants were still within six points, 17 minutes into the third term, but the Bombers were able to put their foot down to record another important victory ahead of next week's showdown with Hawthorn.
GWS' winless run now extends to 16 games, but coach Kevin Sheedy was pleased with how the club bounced back from its trip to the SCG.
"We had to," he said. "It was very embarrassing last week with the Swans.
"It was great to come back after a 120-odd point loss and win the first quarter.
"That shows the fans they're going to have a team eventually to follow."
It was an impressive opening term from the Giants, who kicked 5.3 to equal their best first quarter of the season, having kicked the same score against Geelong in round 11.
Cameron was prominent and his side's intent was clear from the opening bounce as they took it right up to the Bombers.
The lead changed hands five times before Adam Treloar's late goal gave GWS a three-point lead at the first break.
Predictably, Essendon came out hard in the second quarter, recording the first five scoring shots to open a two-goal advantage, which it would maintain until half-time.
The Giants kept on fighting on an important day for them, yet it was Essendon left celebrating its 13th victory of the season.
Josh Bruce of Greater Western Sydney is tackled by Essendon's Corey Dell'Olio during the Bombers' 39-point win. Picture: AFL Media
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3 6.3 9.4 11.11 (77)
ESSENDON 5.0 8.3 14.6 18.8 (116)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron, Giles 4, Whitfield, Tomlinson, Treloar
Essendon: Colyer 4, Stanton, Hurley, Melksham 2, Hooker, Myers, Dell'Olio, Kommer, Jetta, O'Brien, Bellchambers, Goddard
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron, Tomlinson, Haynes, Giles, Whiley, Shiel
Essendon: Melksham, Stanton, Myers, Colyer, Dell'Olio, Hooker
Greater Western Sydney: Tom Scully (concussion) replaced in selected side by Will Hoskin-Elliott, Stephen Gilham (back) replaced in selected side by Josh Bruce
Greater Western Sydney: Will Hoskin-Elliott replaced Gerard Ugle in the third quarter
Essendon: Nathan Lovett-Murray replaced Stewart Crameri in the third quarter
Umpires: Burgess, McInerney, Mitchell
Official crowd: 10,783 at Skoda Stadium