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Inspired Bombers down dismal Demons for first win of the season

Highlights: Essendon v Melbourne The Bombers and Demons clash in round two
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 2: Joe Daniher of the Bombers marks during the 2016 AFL Round 02 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Essendon Bombers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne on April 2, 2016. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)
Joe Daniher flies high for one of his 13 marks

IT HAS taken Essendon only two weeks to prove it wouldn't go through 2016 winless, after the Bombers clinched a spirited 13-point win over a disappointing Melbourne.

The Bombers surprised the Demons to dominate throughout the Saturday afternoon clash at the MCG, claiming the 11.14 (80) to 10.7 (67) triumph for John Worsfold's first win as coach.

Full match coverage and stats

Despite being ravaged by the season-long suspensions of 12 of their senior players, coming off a 10-goal loss to Gold Coast in round one and facing an in-form Demons line-up, the Bombers lifted to post a famous win in what shapes as the most challenging year in their history.

Key forward Joe Daniher was the star, playing the best game of his young career. The 22-year-old was emphatic and unstoppable in the forward line, taking 15 marks (nine inside-50 and seven contested) and having 21 disposals.

Five talking points: Essendon v Melbourne

The 50-gamer's inaccuracy continues to cause him problems and he could have sewn up the win for the Bombers earlier had he kicked straight (he booted 2.4 and two shots out on the full), but he was a force the Dees could not contain.

David Zaharakis (34 disposals) and Zach Merrett (32, two goals) continued their run of form, while Jackson Merrett (28 touches), James Kelly (28) and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (20) enjoyed strong performances.

"I'm just rapt for the club, rapt for the supporters who came out today and the players," Worsfold said post-match.

"As I've said over the last few weeks, we're not feeling sorry for ourselves and we know we've got a massive job ahead of us.

WATCH: John Worsfold's full post-match media conference

"It's been tough to get to this point and it's a really hard-earned win. So I'm pretty proud of getting to that point, but really aware of the challenges that we still face."

The Bombers could have sealed the victory earlier in the afternoon if not for some poor conversion after smashing the Demons in key statistical areas. They recorded 135 more uncontested possessions, 16 more tackles and 15 more inside-50s as Melbourne squandered a golden chance to win the first two games of the season for the first time since 2005.

The defeat also stretched Melbourne's time since back-to-back wins, which hasn't happened for the Dees since the middle of 2011. Recruit Ben Kennedy was the Dees' best with three goals from 21 touches, while Nathan Jones (29 touches) and Bernie Vince (28) competed well.

Melbourne coach Paul Roos lamented the performance, saying there were too many passengers in the Demons' line-up.

"They were just far too good in all aspects of the game," he said.

"I thought even when we got in front we looked tired. Last week when we got in front you sensed we were going to win, whereas today when we got in front we didn't really look like we could keep on going.

"We just had too many passengers today to get over the line and get over the hump."

WATCH: Paul Roos' full post-match media conference

Essendon was unable to make the most of its early dominance, spraying several opportunities in front of goal in the opening term. It took Melbourne until the 12-minute mark of the first quarter to register its first inside-50 entry, but then the Demons kept the ball at their end.

They had nine of the next 12 inside 50s, but like the Bombers couldn't capitalise and managed just one goal for the term, a long snap from Angus Brayshaw. Zach Merrett's second major for the quarter 10 minutes later gave the Bombers a four-point advantage at the first break.

Melbourne looked set to storm ahead when it booted four goals in a row during the second term, including a dazzling three-bounce effort from Jeff Garlett, but Essendon didn't surrender.

But on a day the Bombers had thousands of supporters march to the ground from Federation Square to show their support for the future of the club and the 12 suspended players, the remaining (and new) Bombers showed their spirit by fighting back.

Daniher's dominance in the forward-50 eventually led to a goal late in the second term, which stretched the Bombers' lead to nine points at the main break.

The Demons had no answer for Daniher, who took six marks inside 50 in the first half. It was only his wastefulness (he kicked 1.3 and one out on the full to half-time) that kept the Demons within reach, even though they couldn't get within reach of the tall forward when the ball was in the air proved impossible.

The game tightened in the third term, but Essendon managed to hold its advantage at nine points, leaving the Demons needing a fourth-quarter comeback for the second week in a row to clinch victory.

A goal to the round one NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Clayton Oliver in the opening 20 seconds started the Dees' run, and minutes later Jack Watts put behind him a quiet day to put his team in front.

But the Bombers didn't relent. If part of Saturday's call to arms from fans was about the club's future, then it was fitting it was first-round pick Darcy Parish (21 disposals and eight tackles) who kicked the sealing goal in the 24th minute.

Parish, as much as anyone in red and black, represents the hope that four years of turmoil is behind them and there is light at the end of a long tunnel. 

MEDICAL ROOM
Essendon: In his first game of the season speedy half-back Orazio Fantasia sent a scare through the Essendon camp when he trudged off the ground with an ankle issue in the second term. He required some attention but was back on the field later in the term. 

Melbourne: Jesse Hogan went down in some pain late in the first quarter and spent time in the rooms during the quarter-time break but returned to play out the game albeit having little influence. 

NEXT UP
The Bombers will have received a huge confidence boost from their win over the Demons, and will be on the road next week when they take on Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. Melbourne is also away from home, facing North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania.  

Thousands of Dons fans marched to the MCG in support of of their club. Picture: Getty Images

ESSENDON     2.2  7.7   8.10  11.14 (80)
MELBOURNE   1.4  6.4   7.7    10.7 (67)         

GOALS
Essendon: Z.Merrett 2, Brown 2, Daniher 2, Stokes, Hartley, Kommer, Langford, Parish
Melbourne: Kennedy 3, Garlett 2, Brayshaw, Harmes, Oliver, Watts, Hogan 

BEST 
Essendon: Z.Merrett, Daniher, Zaharakis, Parish, J.Merrett, Goddard, Kelly, McDonald-Tipungwuti
Melbourne: Kennedy, Vince, N.Jones, M.Jones, Tyson 

INJURIES 
Essendon: Fantasia (knee), Matt Dea (nose)
Melbourne: Nil 

Reports: Patrick Ambrose for rough conduct on James Harmes in the second quarter.

Umpires: Fisher, Stephens, Pannell 

Official crowd: 50,424 at the MCG