Winless Essendon’s injury woes have worsened with star onballer Dylan Shiel suffering a potentially serious knee injury in a 54-point belting from Port Adelaide.
Shiel, ruckman Sam Draper and onballer Jye Caldwell were all hurt during Port’s 18.11 (119) to 9.11 (65) triumph at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Shiel hobbled off with a knee injury, Draper hurt an ankle while Caldwell strained a hamstring.
Shiel’s short-term future will be determined by scans on his return to Melbourne.
“The doctors don”t think it’s an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament),” Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.
“But it has just locked up a little bit so he will have some scans and work out exactly what it is. But it doesn’t look great.”
Essendon’s injury list already featured captain Dyson Heppell (back), vice-captain Michael Hurley (hip), Patrick Ambrose (foot), Jake Stringer (foot), David Zaharakis (knee) and James Stewart (hamstring).
Rutten hoped skipper Heppell, a late withdrawal from the Port game, would be available for next Saturday’s clash against St Kilda.
The Power also suffered a late withdrawal when Todd Marshall (back) was replaced by Mitch Georgiades, who made an instant impact.
Georgiades and his fellow tall forward Charlie Dixon booted two goals apiece as Port blitzed the Bombers in the opening term.
Just 15 minutes in, the Power led 5.1 to nothing and the contest was effectively decided.
With Zak Butters and Dan Houston particularly prominent, Port stretched their lead to a whopping 49 points some 18 minutes into the second stanza.
From then, the closest Essendon crept was 37 points just before halftime.
Georgiades and Dixon both finished with four goals while Steven Motlop, Peter Ladhams and Orazio Fantasia, playing against his former club for the first time, booted two goals apiece.
Port, beaten preliminary finalists last season, have banked consecutive big wins – by 54 and 52 points – to open their season.
“We are definitely a better team now than we were at the end of 2020,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said.
“I know that. I have seen that and I have seen them train like that and I have seen them already play like that.
“But the challenge for the team is that there is another 20 games to go before we even think about anything else.”
Port’s Butters (36 disposals, six clearances, one goal) and Houston (25 touches, one goal) were brilliant while Ollie Wines (38 possessions), Travis Boak (30 disposals, nine clearances) and Willem Drew (25 touches) formed a dominant midfield.
Essendon forwards Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Cale Hooker kicked three goals apiece, Jordan Ridley collected a team-high 32 disposals while Zach Merrett had 28 touches.