The heat is set to intensify on Essendon coach Ben Rutten after Josh Kennedy booted five goals to lift West Coast to a shock 10-point AFL win at Optus Stadium.
Kennedy (5.0), Willie Rioli (three goals), Jamie Cripps (three goals), Jack Darling (two goals), and Liam Ryan (two goals) all cashed in as the Eagles secured the 16.11 (107) to 14.13 (97) win on Friday night.
The result ended West Coast’s club-record nine-match losing run, and lifted the Eagles (2-12) off the bottom of the ladder.
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It was also the first time in 26 matches West Coast had crashed through the 100-point barrier in a game.
Essendon (3-11) stay in 16th spot, with last week’s win over St Kilda now a distant memory.
Rutten is contracted until the end of 2023, but losing to a team that entered the match with a percentage of 52.2 is a bad look.
Essendon won the inside 50m count (58-42) and clearances (37-30), but their inaccuracy at key moments cost them dearly.
“It’s amazing that winning feeling. I haven’t felt it for a while,” Kennedy told Fox Sports after the game.
“It was great to get a win for them (the fans). We’ve been struggling.
“It was a bit of a shootout. We wanted to keep playing brave.
“(The body) is pretty sore. I’ll keep chipping through. It’s just great seeing the kids come through and playing well.”
West Coast’s lack of pressure and horrible turnovers were telling in the opening term as Peter Wright and Jake Stringer booted two goals apiece.
Another ugly loss for the Eagles was brewing as the Bombers skipped out to a 22-point lead in the first quarter.
But a moment of magic from Darling helped turn the tide.
Darling snared a one-handed mark in the goalsquare while on his knees to send the crowd wild, and the Eagles unleashed a six-goal blitz in the second term to take a shock five-point lead into half-time.
Rioli and Cripps booted two goals each in the second term, while Wright entered the break with a wayward 3.4 to his name.
The lead changed hands four times in a pulsating third term, but two goals to Liam Ryan gave West Coast a handy 11-point edge heading into the final change.
Ryan’s second goal – while being slung to the ground in a tackle – sent the 40,933 crowd wild.
Kennedy looked to have put the game to bed in the final term when he followed up a goal from a pack mark with another major from point-blank range, extending the margin to 22 points.
The Bombers sent a major scare with two goals in the space of a minute to close the gap to 10 points with two minutes remaining, but West Coast held firm from that point on.
Dylan Shiel racked up 26 disposals and nine clearances for Essendon, while forward Peter Wright booted 4.4 and Jake Stringer finished with three majors.