Xavier Duursma celebrates a goal during the match between Essendon and West Coast at Marvel Stadium in round 15, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

ESSENDON has helped its chances for a top-four finish with a 30-point win over a spirited West Coast outfit on Sunday afternoon.

A sealer from veteran Dyson Heppell had the vocal crowd on its feet, as the Bombers secured the 19.8 (122) to 13.14 (92) win under the Marvel Stadium roof.

BOMBERS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats

Strong periods from the Eagles late in the first and third terms kept them within arm's reach of Essendon, but in the end simply couldn't rein in the margin, kicking even goals from 16 scores in the second half.

A bag of five goals for Jake Stringer came as a result of time split between the midfield and forward line, while Sam Durham was absolutely relentless for the Bombers. With 29 disposals, five clearances and a goal, Durham's two-way running efforts set up repeat opportunities for his forwards, and proved a real headache for the Eagles.

Nate Caddy, who was a late inclusion for Todd Goldstein (managed) also provided a spark inside 50 for Essendon, with his aggressive leap and two goals coming in just his second game.


Both sides were opened up defensively when the opposition chose to move the ball with speed. A typically staunch Essendon backline was finding itself disorganised and tense early when the Eagles cut through end-to-end, but tightened up as the game wore on.

Meanwhile West Coast was guilty of allowing Essendon midfielders to slip forward into space with no direct opponent to compete with. Stringer and Durham frequently started in the middle and pushed forward to exploit this lack of attention from the Eagles' midfielders.


Too often were the Eagles drawn en masse to the ball carrier, allowing the home side to hit neat kicks through the corridor. This easy transition was aided by the Bombers' disciplined structure, always maintaining balance in layers around the contest, leaving several exits for the ball carrier at any moment.

This was also evident in the serious impact of Essendon's wing rotation of Xavier Duursma (20 disposals, one goal), Nik Cox (nine disposals, six tackles), and Harrison Jones (14 disposals, six marks). The trio were damaging as they pressed forward, but also regularly aided the Bombers' backline.


Lapses in concentration let West Coast down, and in those patches the Bombers were sure to score heavily, including three goals in four minutes late in the second quarter.

Around the contest the Eagles enjoyed some real dynamism when it came to ball winners. Consistent performers Elliot Yeo (20 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) and Liam Duggan (19 disposals, three clearances) were a regular presence, while Liam Ryan's ability to clear the ball out the front of the stoppage proved damaging, and Reuben Ginbey's work to minimise Merrett's impact added an element of physicality.


With the result Essendon now sits six points clear inside the top for, with all teams now on the other side of their bye.

Allen back in action
West Coast has been without co-captain Oscar Allen (two goals, nine marks) since round one of this season due to a knee injury, but he made his return to the field against the Bombers on Sunday. Avoiding the interim step of a WAFL game to get his touch back, it took Allen some time to re-establish his damaging presence in the front half, dropping marks he would normally take and overrunning ground balls. But once settled, his impact was increasingly important. He broke through for his first goal of the season in the third quarter, and certainly became a factor for Essendon's defence to contend with as the game was in the balance. No doubt, Allen will be better for the run, and looms as a major factor in the back half of West Coast's season.

A handy first goal
Nate Caddy has had to bide his time for opportunity since being selected with pick No.10 in last year's AFL draft. A late inclusion for a managed Todd Goldstein, it was just Caddy's second game at the top level. But by the second quarter it was his opportunity to shine. Receiving a handball from Matt Guelfi deep in the right forward pocket, Caddy calmly steadied before slamming the ball onto his left boot. The ball sailed high, keeping the Bombers-heavy crowd in suspense before the goal was confirmed and Caddy celebrated accordingly with his teammates. Not a bad way to kick your first goal in the AFL.


A quick correction
After Essendon captain Zach Merrett got off to a blistering start, effortlessly finding space and neatly setting up teammates in attack, the Eagles quickly shifted young midfielder Reuben Ginbey into a run-with role. While Merrett ultimately finished the quarter with six disposals and four score involvements, his impact was certainly quietened by the tough Eagle in the latter stages of the term. Merrett remained a major factor for Essendon with 29 disposals and one goal by the final siren, but was not again afforded as much time or space.

ESSENDON          4.2     10.4    14.5     19.8 (122)
WEST COAST       4.3     6.5     11.10    13.14 (92)

Essendon: Stringer 5, Caddy 2, Guelfi 2, Langford 2, Wright 2, Caldwell, Durham, Duursma, Heppell, Hind, Merrett
West Coast: Waterman 3, Allen 2, Cripps 2, Darling 2, Petruccelle 2, Chesser, Yeo

Essendon: Durham, Merrett, Stringer, McKay, Caldwell, Martin
West Coast: Cripps, Ryan, McGovern, Duggan, Yeo

Essendon: Nil
West Coast: Nil

Essendon: Todd Goldstein (managed), replaced in the selected side by Nate Caddy
West Coast: Nil

Jye Menzie (replaced Nik Cox in the fourth quarter)
West Coast: Jack Hutchinson (replaced Ryan Maric in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 40,840 at Marvel Stadium