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Relieved Worsfold praises star skipper

'Four quarter effort' the big difference John Worsfold believes his side took some small 'steps forward' in tonight's win

IF A week is a long time in football, two weeks are an eternity. That was proven by the look on Essendon coach John Worsfold's face.

Worsfold's recent grumpy press conference performances have attracted plenty of attention this year, particularly as his side slumped to four straight losses between rounds five and eight.

However, the veteran coach looked a different man after his team’s 14.11 (95) to 8.12 (60) victory over Greater Western Sydney on Saturday night – its second straight win following its domination of Geelong last week.

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The most pleasing thing? Essendon's dominant midfield performance on enemy territory, in which it won the clearances 55-42, including 16-8 out of the centre.

Bombers David Zaharakis (33 touches) and Dyson Heppell (28 touches, 12 clearances) led the way in the guts.

They received solid support from Zach Merrett, who managed 24 possessions and nine clearances in an entertaining battle with Giants gun Stephen Coniglio.

Despite a myriad of injured stars, GWS still fielded a glittering on-ball division.

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Worsfold was pleased with the way his side stood up to the likes of Coniglio (32 possessions), Callan Ward (34) and Josh Kelly (29).

"You know they're very good players. I just thought it was an absorbing contest through the midfield and probably them getting a little bit more outside when normally they're a very good inside team," Worsfold said. 

"It sort of reversed what people probably thought might have happened through the midfield in that we might have got them on the outside a bit more and they win the inside battles. It was a bit the other way for some reason."

Despite having only two possessions, Bombers ruckman Tom Bellchambers was a dominant force around the ground with 45 hit-outs, as the visitors won that stat 60-44.

With the game in the balance early in the final term, Essendon piled on four quick goals to break the Giants on their home deck.

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Worsfold saved special praise for skipper Heppell – who spent large chunks of the game opposed to Giants star Dylan Shiel.

"The captain has been pretty solid all year," Worsfold said.

"He's probably as frustrated as any one of us, as a committed young captain.

"He's been leading the way even through some of our harder days so it's great that he can be leading the way through some wins."

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Former Giant Devon Smith's game was another highlight for the visitors.

Smith, 25, who left GWS at the end of last season, had 21 possessions and 12 tackles for the Bombers.

Worsfold said Smith "did not lack confidence".

"He's brought a lot of pressure, intensity, hard run and speed to our team, and he did that again tonight.

"I thought he just played his role. He wasn't overawed by playing against his mates or anything like that. He was very focused."