Geelong continue hoodoo over Bombers at wet MCG

Geelong have continued their 20-year stranglehold over Essendon to post a crucial and commanding 45-point win at a wet MCG.

After losing six of their last seven games in a concerning form slump, the Cats rallied on Saturday night to win 16.9 (105) to 9.6 (60) and spoil Bombers great Dyson Heppell's 250th game.

It was Geelong's 22nd win from their last 26 games against Essendon, dating back to 2004. The Bombers last beat the Cats back in 2018.

Geelong (9-6) started the match in 10th, but the vital result puts them back into fifth in a ladder logjam.

Jeremy Cameron.
Jeremy Cameron was one of four multiple goalkickers for the Cats. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Essendon's hopes of securing a top-fourth finish for the first time since 2001 took a hit with the loss, and the Bombers (9-1-5) will have just six days to prepare for another MCG blockbuster against Collingwood next Friday night.

Just as they did in torrential rain in Brisbane in round six, Geelong handled the wet conditions far better than their opposition.

Five-time All-Australian defender Tom Stewart went into the midfield, joining Sam De Koning in the centre square after the premiership backman's surprise move into the ruck against Carlton last week.

The move paid off for the Cats after Essendon brought back veteran ruck Todd Goldstein after a week's rest to partner Sam Draper.

Tall utility Harrison Jones was tactically subbed out in the last quarter for the versatile Nik Cox, who gathered seven possessions in limited game time.

"I liked it around the contests - I didn't think that hurt us at all," Essendon coach Brad Scott said of playing two rucks.

"Even in the conditions we like Draper's ability to give us a contest in the forward half.

"The balance of our side was fine.

"The ruck set-up didn't cost us, in my opinion. I think it's probably just too easy to say that we were too tall."

The Bombers were exposed through the midfield and in defence, with Geelong surging in numbers to score multiple easy goals out the back.

The Cats trailed by five points at halftime, but separated themselves with a five-goal-to-one third term to flatten the Bombers.

You can't give Tyson Stengle opportunities like that!#AFLCatsDons

— AFL (@AFL) June 29, 2024

The Essendon faithful were left fuming with some of the umpiring decisions, including a contentious deliberate rushed behind against Jye Menzie that gave an Ollie Dempsey an easy goal for Geelong.

Small forward Tyson Stengle, who is expected to re-sign with the Cats on a long-term deal, kicked all three of his goals in the second half.

Exciting youngster Dempsey starred with 25 disposals and two goals in a standout performance.

"It was pleasing that we had some some of our good players back in some some good form," Geelong coach Chris Scott said.

"We've got some good guys who have just been a little bit off ... we had a bad one against Carlton and a bad one against the Gold Coast.

"I don't think we ever, hand on heart, got sucked into thinking that we were going that badly."

Jye Caldwell, Nic Martin and captain Zach Merrett were comfortably the Bombers' best, while Jake Stringer started hot with two first-quarter goals before going missing for the rest of the match.