ESSENDON has continued its giant-killing ways, beating an understrength and underwhelming Brisbane by 10 points at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon.
The 15.10 (100) to 13.12 (90) victory was the Bombers' third win in their past four matches and came just eight days after they beat Sydney at the MCG.
LIONS v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
Peter Wright stood like a man among boys, kicking five goals, including four in the second half, as the visitors dominated for much of the day in front of a strong crowd of 29,101.
It was Brisbane's first defeat on its home ground since last year's semi-final loss to the Western Bulldogs and its first home-and-away loss there since round one, 2021.
Zach Merrett (31 disposals) was magnificent in the middle of the ground for the Bombers, while Kyle Langford (four goals), Jye Caldwell (26 and one goal) and Jordan Ridley all had major influences.
Essendon dominated the midfield battle and used a five-goal-to-two second quarter to bankroll its win.
The Bombers routinely kicked goals following centre clearances and worked much harder once the ball got away from congestion.
Brisbane had been decimated by injury and the League's health and safety protocols, but its effort was sub-par for much of the day.
Hugh McCluggage (29 disposals) battled hard, while Lincoln McCarthy (three goals) looked like giving it life a number of times.
The defeat leaves the Lions clinging to fourth place.
Essendon opened a 16-point lead by half-time, and it could easily have been so much more.
With Nick Hind running free from the defensive end, Dylan Shiel and Merrett through the midfield and Langford in the forward 50, the Bombers made the hosts look slow.
Langford bagged three goals for the term – all from uncontested marks – as Essendon competed with little pressure on it.
Wright gave the Bombers a deserved cushion just prior to the main break with a 50m bomb that sailed through.
'CRAZY WEEK' FOR LIONS Brisbane coach Fagan disappointed, Bombers keep progressing
He added three goals in the third term as the teams traded goals for the Lions to draw within 12 points at the final change.
'Two-metre' Peter took over
Zach Merrett was magnificent for Essendon, but 'Two-metre' Peter Wright was the difference between the teams. Facing a Brisbane backline without Harris Andrews (health and safety protocols), Wright dominated his match-up against Jack Payne. He kicked five goals, four in the second half, and his aerial presence was colossal. Wright took eight marks, four of them contested, and kicked a critical goal in the fourth quarter when the Lions were closing the gap. He now has 40 goals in a breakout season.
Two jobs, two wins for the Bombers
Not surprisingly Essendon coach Ben Rutten identified Lachie Neale and Charlie Cameron as Brisbane's two danger men. With that in mind he assigned Jye Caldwell to run with Neale all day and Jake Kelly – who was given a reprieve from being dropped following the late withdrawal of Mason Redman through the League's health and safety protocols – to defend Cameron. It was a resounding two-from-two for the Bombers, with Caldwell keeping Neale to 21 disposals and Kelly blanketing Cameron (12 touches and one goal).
Robbo's Liquorice allsorts
Mitch Robinson has been dropped twice this year, but the Lions veteran was given a reprieve as one of the nine changes to last week's team. He started in his usual physical nature, laying a couple of aggressive tackles, but then gave away a 50m penalty for dissent. It wasn't long before Robinson fired the Lions up though with a terrific 50m set shot to get them on the board. He turned back the clock in the second half, being moved from the wing into an onball role and finished with 19 touches and two goals.
BRISBANE 2.3 4.8 9.9 13.12 (90)
ESSENDON 2.3 7.6 11.9 15.10 (100)
Brisbane: McCarthy 3, McInerney 2, Robinson 2, Cameron, Daniher, Fort, Hipwood, Michael, Rayner
Essendon: Wright 5, Langford 4, Caldwell, Draper, Guelfi, Heppell, Hobbs, Shiel
Brisbane: McCluggage, McCarthy, McInerney, Starcevich
Essendon: Merrett, Wright, Langford, Ridley, Caldwell, Shiel
Essendon: D'Ambrosio (corked quad)
Brisbane: Rhys Mathieson (unused)
Essendon: Brayden Ham (replaced D'Ambrosio in the fourth quarter)
Crowd: 29,101 at the Gabba