John Longmire speaks to his players during the R2 match between Sydney and Essendon at the SCG on March 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY coach John Longmire has been left fuming after defender Harry Cunningham had to be stretchered off following a collision with Peter Wright early in a heated clash with Essendon.

The Bombers came out firing as they looked to make a statement against the red-hot Swans before the hosts eventually settled and powered away to a 30-point victory at the SCG on Saturday night. 

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Wright could come under the scrutiny of the MRO after leaving the ground and choosing to brace for contact in a marking contest, but catching Cunningham high just a few minutes into the match.

Cunningham was motionless for several minutes and had to leave the field on a stretcher, with Longmire unsure how long the defender might be sidelined for after the heavy hit.

"I look at it from, obviously, our point of view, it's going be disappointing to lose Harry for a bit now," Longmire said. 

"I'm not sure how long, but I'm disappointed in that."


Bombers coach Brad Scott had spoken earlier in the week about the 'Essendon edge' that he wants his side to play with.

The Swans took that as a warning shot as they prepared to face a Bombers outfit looking to improve on an 11th-place finish last season. 

Essendon kicked the first two goals of the game before Wright crashed through Cunningham, but Sydney had snatched the lead before the first change and were mostly in command from there.

Peter Wright and Harry Cunningham collide during the R2 match between Essendon and Sydney at the SCG on March 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"They clearly come out with an intent in the physical space, they talked about that during the week," Longmire said.

"They were very clear about the edge that they wanted to play with, so we knew that they'd be coming with that."


Scott refused to comment on the incident between Wright and Cunningham but revealed concern that the Bombers' spearhead would have a case to answer.

The second-year Bombers coach added that his side brought a physical approach to the encounter partly out of respect for the blistering start that the Swans have made this season.

"I can't comment on issues that might be before the MRO," Scott said.


"But the only thing I can say, and I'm not going to talk about the incident, but Peter Wright is a well-known ball player.

"Sydney have dominated the last few weeks, they've got a lot of players who are very slick, very good with ball in hand, their ball movement is very solid at the moment.

"If we just sat back and watched them do that, it was going to be a long, difficult night. We needed to combat that with some physicality in the contest."