The Western Bulldogs have strengthened their finals chances and landed a blow to Essendon's own September aspirations with a run-away 41-point win on Friday night.

A dominant second half from the Dogs made it nine wins from their last 10 outings against the battered Bombers, recording 13.12 (90) to 7.7 (49) under the roof of Marvel Stadium.

Tried and true Bulldogs Marcus Bontempelli (29 disposals, two goals, 645 metres gained) and Tom Liberatore (36 disposals, 13 clearances, four tackles) were instrumental in their side's important victory, while a quad injury to important Essendon defender Jordan Ridley spells danger for his side's run to finals.


It was the Bulldogs' ninth win from 10 games against the Bombers since Luke Beveridge took over as coach in 2015.

A fast start from Essendon, which kicked the opening goal via Peter Wright within just 19 seconds, failed to set the tone in a sluggish first quarter.

It was essentially a game of kick-to-kick between the arcs for much of the term with neither team ready or willing to take the game on, instead moving slowly – too slowly – and allowing defensive units to set up impenetrable walls at either end.

Coming into the game, 60 per cent of Essendon's possession this season had been registered in its defensive half, and that trend continued with Mason Redman, Ridley and Dyson Heppell each gathering 10 touches in the first quarter as they worked a short kicking, switching style out of defence.


They continued that method in the back half across the course of the game and, as a result Essendon's four leading ball winners were all defenders; Ridley (29), Jayden Laverde (27), Redman (28) and Andrew McGrath (26).

The impact of Bontempelli couldn't be denied though, as the Dogs captain was the first to add some pace and power to the game. Charging up the corridor and taking a flying shot on goal late in the quarter, it faded left but changed the tone of the match.

All of a sudden, both teams played with urgency and dare and worked to pick off options through the corridor or run for the handball receive. But it was only the Dogs who were willing to persist with such an aggressive, attacking style for the rest of the match.

The Bulldogs were a team reborn in the second term as they moved the ball quickly and became unpredictable to Essendon's defence. Added to this, they were finding some control in the air, taking some strong - at times lucky - contested marks, but often making the most of the shift in pace.

Essendon, on the other hand, was panicked and sucked into overusing the footy and succumbing to the Dogs' pressure, but remained in touch until the final term by virtue of its reliable intercept markers behind the footy.

They closed the gap to just 14 points via a Matt Guelfi goal early in the final term, but the Dogs kicked the last four majors of the game to kill the contest.

     3.2    5.3    6.5   7.7 (49)
WESTERN BULLDOGS      1.3    7.5    9.7   13.12 (90)

Essendon: Wright 3, Langford 2, Merrett, Guelfi
Western Bulldogs: Ugle-Hagan 3, Weightman 3, Bontempelli 2, Scott, Naughton, West, Baker, Treloar

Essendon: Ridley, Martin, Langford, Merrett, Parish
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Liberatore, Smith, Treloar, Daniel

Essendon: Ridley (right quad)
Western Bulldogs: Nil

Essendon: Nick Hind (replaced Nick Bryan in the third quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Williams (replaced Oskar Baker in the final quarter)

Crowd: 43,634