Essendon VFL coach Hayden Skipworth says it's "hard to tell" whether the external pressure from the supplements scandal had an impact on the players after its embarrassing 72-point loss to the Box Hill Hawks at Box Hill City Oval.
With speculation surrounding the potential stripping of match points at AFL level, AFL Victoria has suggested that it will take direct instruction from the AFL in relation to any punishment required with its VFL team.
It is likely that the Bombers VFL team – fighting for a spot in the finals – will face the same consequences, if any, as its AFL feeder team.
On Saturday it appeared as if some of the Bombers' senior players were resigned to the fact that their season was coming to a close after their lacklustre performance. It was in direct contrast to the past month where they have strung four consecutive wins together to snare eighth spot.
“They (Box Hill) were miles above us (in intensity), especially around the footy. I thought we were really reactive,” Skipworth said.
It was a disappointing performance for a team fighting for a spot in the finals – in which their spot was taken on Saturday by the Northern Blues, who had an 18-point win over Sandringham at Visy Park.
The Bombers also had some household names in the line-up - David Hille, Stewart Crameri, Nathan Lovett-Murray, Joe Daniher and Travis Colyer to name a few.
And they had just one goal on the board until the 28-minute mark of the third term.
Daniher had kicked both goals up until the last change. The final score was 15.21 (111) to 5.9 (39).
Despite the hefty loss, Skipworth still believes they can make the finals with matches to come against Frankston and North Ballarat, who are also in the race for eighth spot.
Box Hill, meanwhile, is in second spot and while it did a remarkable job in shutting down any avenue to goal for Essendon, coach Damian Carroll admits it wasn't the best line-up Box Hill has fielded this season.
“I don't think we had our best side in for the year but they certainly played compliant football and courageous and contested football,” Carroll said.
David Ellard led the Blues' important win over Sandringham with 29 disposals. Levi Casboult kicked a couple of crucial goals, while Kane Lucas was also impressive with 24 touches.
The Coburg Tigers' 74-point win over Bendigo was their sixth win of the season, climbing past Sandringham on the ladder to 12th spot.
Geelong, who has a three game lead over the rest of the competition, will travel to take on another premiership threat, Williamstown, on Sunday, while the Werribee Tigers will be looking to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their one and only flag when they host Port Melbourne.
Williamstown v Geelong, 2pm at Burbank Oval
Werribee Tigers v Port Melbourne, 2pm at Avalon Airport Oval
Frankston v Casey Scorpions, 2pm at Frankston Oval
North Ballarat v Collingwood, 2pm at Eureka Stadium