Melbourne beats Essendon to stay in contention for last AFL finals spot (Australian News)

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The Demons have given themselves a chance of playing in this year’s AFL finals series following a 19-point win over Essendon on the Gold Coast.

The 10.8 (68) to 7.7 (49) victory over the Bombers lifts the Demons to eighth, a position they will retain if the Western Bulldogs lose to Fremantle in Cairns on Sunday night.

The Bulldogs will leapfrog the Demons into eighth place, however, if they can beat or at least draw with the Dockers.

Both the Bulldogs and Demons sit on 36 points, but Melbourne has a superior percentage.

The Demons have already turned their attention to the Bulldogs-Dockers clash, cheekily backing Fremantle to get up for the win.

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Saturday’s defeat marks the end of John Worsfold’s coaching reign at the Bombers, with the 51-year-old finishing with 45 wins from his 107 matches at the helm.

Assistant coach Ben Rutten will take over at the Bombers, who won just one of their final 10 matches of the season and last triumphed in a finals match way back in 2004.

Jayden Hunt kicked four goals for the Demons, while Bayley Fritsch booted three as Simon Goodwin’s team did their bit despite a fourth-quarter fightback by the Bombers.

Melbourne appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win with a 34-point lead in the third term but a goal after the three-quarter time siren to James Stewart sparked the Bombers into life.

Stewart collected two more goals, and Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel all kicked fourth-quarter majors as the Bombers closed the gap to seven points.

With Melbourne’s chances of playing in finals hanging by a knife edge, Fritsch stood up with two late goals to halt the Bombers’ momentum and secure the win.

Stewart finished with three goals for the match, with Melbourne’s Alex Neal-Bullen (two) another multiple goalkicker.

Former Bomber Mitch Brown had 13 marks, while a trio of Bombers — Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett and Shiel — topped the disposals tally with 25 touches each.

Demons star Christian Petracca was the leading possession winner for his team with 23 disposals and he also kicked a bomb of a goal in the second quarter from outside 50.

AAP/ABC

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