Jake Stringer stars as Bombers stun Eagles

·3-min read

Jake Stringer has produced a heroic second-half display as Essendon came from 29 points down to post a gutsy 16-point win over an injury-hit West Coast at Optus Stadium.

The Eagles looked set for victory after booting five unanswered goals during a 15-minute blitz in the second term of Saturday night's match.

Stringer, in his first match back from a hamstring injury, went to halftime with 0.2 to his name from seven disposals.

But he exploded in the second half with three clutch goals - including two in the final term - to lift Essendon to a 12.15 (87) to 11.5 (71) win in front of 41,883 fans.

The result improved Essendon's record to 5-6 while West Coast's top-four hopes are looking slim after slipping to 6-5.

Injuries came back to bite West Coast.

Star midfielder Tim Kelly damaged the medial ligament in his right knee in the opening seconds of the second term and was subbed out, while Oscar Allen didn't appear in the second half after suffering a concussion when he landed on his head in a marking contest.

Dom Sheed stepped up in the absence of Kelly to tally 43 disposals, six clearances and a goal, while ruckman Nic Naitanui (20 disposals, 40 hitouts, seven clearances) was influential in the slippery conditions.

Bombers midfielder Darcy Parish was huge with 36 possessions and 11 clearances, while Zach Merrett (37 touches) also helped Essendon turn the tide in the midfield despite Naitanui's ruck dominance.

Back-up West Coast ruckman Bailey Williams could be suspended over a no-look elbow that left defender Jayden Laverde with a bloodied nose.

"It was a fantastic effort," Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.

"It's been a different week in terms of our prep. We got the call 9pm Tuesday night that we had to be on a flight the next morning (to escape the COVID-19 breakout in Melbourne).

"Staff, players, everybody, just dropped what they were doing and came over here.

"The boys showed huge spirit and character and it's something we're going to have to draw upon in our journey moving forward. It was a significant game for us."

When West Coast subbed Kelly out of the match at the 10-minute mark of the second term, his replacement Jake Waterman stormed onto the field and kicked a goal straight away.

Waterman's floating goal sparked a run of five straight majors as the lead ballooned to 29 points, but late goals for Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Kyle Langford reduced the margin to 17 points at the break.

Waterman conceded two free kicks that led to goals in the third quarter, but the big moment came late in the term when Stringer nailed a 50 metre goal from the boundary.

Stringer's opening goal of the final term gave the Bombers the lead in driving rain and his third goal with seven minutes remaining delivered Essendon a nine-point buffer.

The Bombers dominated the inside 50s 22-6 in the final term with forward Alec Waterman kicking the sealer.

"The will to win was there for the most part, but not the whole part," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.

"When the game was on the line for the last 10 minutes, we didn't do enough to get over the line, and they did."

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