Another week from hell has ended with an unhappy AFL milestone for Essendon, who lost to GWS for the first time.
The Giants’ 32-point home win on Sunday came a day after former coach Mark Thompson said Essendon are “drowning” because of the ongoing supplements scandal.
The team’s impressive on-field resilience through the last two seasons is gone, with Essendon losing nine of their last 10 games.
And Thompson’s comments about Essendon clearly rocked the club.
“I think everyone was a bit flabbergasted by that, the players were genuinely flabbergasted by those comments,” coach James Hird told 3AW after Sunday’s loss.
“I’m not going to get into a slanging match with Mark Thompson.
“Mark has been an Essendon premiership player, a terrific person at Essendon.
“He’s done some good things here, but that’s not in anyone’s best interests I don’t think.”
Thompson was Essendon interim coach last year as Hird served a 12-month AFL suspension.
His comments came a few days after another media leak about their anti-doping saga.
WADA is said to have new evidence for its appeal against 34 current and past Essendon players.
Essendon started well on Sunday, but GWS kicked 11 goals to four in the second half for the 14.9 (93) to 8.13 (61) win.
It kept the Giants in 10th place, only half a game and percentage outside the top eight.
Also on Sunday, North Melbourne kicked clear in the last term to beat Melbourne by 35 points in a pulsating MCG clash.
The 19.13 (127) to 14.8 (92) win means North improved by one place to sixth, just ahead of Richmond on percentage.
After two upset losses, top side Fremantle were ruthless against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
By three-quarter time the Saints only had three goals and the Dockers posted a regulation 15.6 (96) to 8.11 (59) win.
As the jockeying for finals spots intensifies, the Western Bulldogs were the big winners as Richmond and Sydney faltered.
The Bulldogs belted Port Adelaide by 64 points, ending their finals hopes and taking fourth spot from the Swans.
Geelong respectfully welcomed back Swans star Adam Goodes, but otherwise were ruthless hosts on Saturday night with a 32-point win that kept them in eighth spot.
The Dockers are on the way to the minor premiership – West Coast’s 14-point home loss to Hawthorn gives Fremantle a two-and-a-half game buffer.
It also means the third-placed Hawks are only half a game behind the Eagles, who have the Western Derby next weekend.
Adelaide opened round 19 with an outstanding 36-point home win over the Tigers.
The Crows are ninth, just behind the Cats on percentage, while Richmond lost touch with the top four.
Collingwood snapped their six-game losing streak with an ugly three-goal win over Carlton and remain in the finals hunt.
The Magpies are 11th with four rounds left, six points behind the Cats.
Gold Coast posted their third win of the season, beating bottom side Brisbane by 14 points.