All four Essendon sides brought together excellent batting performances to round out fine first days in their Round 17 clashes with Fitzroy Doncaster.
The First XI recovered after a bad start to end the day against Fitzroy Doncaster holding the upper hand.
The Bombers were sent in to bat first against the third-placed Lions but steadily fought their way to 5/120 with Michael Hill (39) and Aaron Ayre (32) holding out with able top order performances. However, once Fitzroy Doncaster broke through the wickets tumbled fast; the last five Essendon wickets crashed for just 30. Defending just 150, the Bombers started all guns a-blazing with Clint McKay (2/6) backing up his lower order knock of 25 with the wickets of openers Jack Rudd and Tim Sheehan. Matt Doric chimed in with two scalps of his own and suddenly the highly-fancied Lions were in dire straits at 4/10. The Bombers claimed a fifth scalp in the last over of the day when Michael Hill, thrown the ball by captain Aaron Ayre despite not having taken a wicket all season, removed Lloyd Mash. Essendon have 75 runs in hand next Saturday.
The Second XI have posted 289 against Fitzroy Doncaster with one of their most dynamic batting compositions of the year. David Tantsis-Hall (89) slingshot his side out of the gates with Nishal Perera (79) building on a fantastic start with his second half-century of the season. The most devastating blow was Liam Molloy’s superb lower order 65, which has put the Bombers in the box seat to claim their eleventh win of the season in the penultimate round.
James Ryan’s maiden Essendon century has swayed momentum in the Third XI’s favourite. Ryan (107) stood up after a shaky Bomber start. Once he found a more-than-able partner in James Ford (78), the match was little more than one-way traffic. Essendon have set Fitzroy Doncaster an imposing 276 to win off 80 overs.
The Fourth XI’s total of 200 off 82 overs was hard-fought. Two partnerships formed the heart of the Bombers’ total: Lucas Camuncoli (43) delivered a season-high score in his second wicket stand with Josh Bustard (41) before James Deasy (57) and Matt Adams (39) saw the Bombers sprinting rather than walking to stumps.