1. This is what we thought Essendon would be
The game was effectively over minutes into the second quarter. Based on how Geelong and Essendon were travelling heading into their clash, someone who hadn't been keeping track of the scores probably would have assumed the Cats had strangled the Bombers. Instead, it was John Worsfold's men who broke their streak of four straight losses and turned up with manic tackling pressure, winning that stat 91-68. Their scintillating ball movement was reminiscent of what everyone saw Essendon produce last year. Shaun McKernan was on fire early and finished with four goals while Jake Stringer and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti burst out of their form slumps. It came after an eventful week off the field, with game performance manager Mark Neeld made redundant and Mark Baguley involved in a sledging controversy with Carlton niggler Jed Lamb, while Michael Hurley was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
2. Where is Geelong?
It seems 2018 will again be an incredibly even season but the Cats' form swings make it hard to tell how good they are. On the back of an impressive fortnight against fellow finals contenders Greater Western Sydney and Collingwood, a comprehensive win at the MCG would have established them as genuine premiership contenders. Instead, more questions need to be asked. Geelong's lethargic approach to this contest was disappointing from a side expected to be much better, especially considering how much midfield talent it has.
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3. The one stat that sums up how good Essendon's day was
For some inexplicable reason, the Bombers had been diabolical in third terms this season, having lost all eight coming into their clash with Geelong. The Cats had won six themselves, so for Essendon to take the advantage by four points in that quarter was a great result. Worsfold's men made it hard for themselves, finishing with 1.6 including a couple of McKernan misses, but finally finishing in the positive in that quarter should give them confidence heading into next week's contest with Greater Western Sydney.
4. Geelong superstars disappoint
Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett share three Brownlow Medals between them but they did not play up to that standard on Saturday. In a strange sight, Dangerfield spent time in the ruck in the second quarter and while he finished with 27 disposals, his ball use was often wayward. Meanwhile, Ablett spent a lot of time forward and amassed 17 disposals, his lowest since round two last year, against the Giants. He pushed up into the midfield on plenty of occasions but just couldn't provide the brilliance the football world has become so accustomed to seeing from the champion.
5. A completely different situation for Essendon's stars
Captain Dyson Heppell and young gun Zach Merrett needed to set the tone in the middle after both had experienced a quiet patch and they did that from the opening bounce. Their intensity at the football and willingness to apply physical pressure was evident in the first half especially. Merrett laid brilliant tackles on Dangerfield and Ablett in the opening quarter to send a statement while Heppell crunched Cats skipper Joel Selwood in the second term. Those acts seemed to drive home the message the Bombers wouldn't meekly surrender to Geelong's big names. Heppell questioned his own leadership earlier in the week but he did what great leaders do, and that's respond with an awesome performance.