‘It’s all a facade’: Tom Papley brings flamethrowers to Essendon in brutal crackdown on AFL

Tom Papley has brought a flamethrower to Essendon, accusing the Bombers of resorting to off-the-ball tactics in Sydney’s 30-point win on Saturday evening.

The two teams went neck-and-neck in the first half before the Swans ran away with a 19.17 (131) to 15.11 (101) win at the SCG.

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Tensions escalated after Essendon striker Peter Wright took out Sydney’s Harry Cunningham in a clumsy collision early in the game.

A scuffle between opposing players in the second quarter could well have turned into a brawl had Essendon runner and ex-Collingwood star Travis Cloke not intervened.

Papley was one of Sydney’s best, kicking four goals from 24 disposals, while midfield trio Isaac Heeney, Errol Gulden and Chad Warner were all on the scoresheet.

Papley said there was “no love lost” between the Swans and the Bombers and described Essendon coach Brad Scott’s mantra of playing on the sidelines as a “facade”.

“They really gave it to us. Brad Scott came out and said they wanted the Essendon advantage and Peter Wright went a bit too far,” Papley told 3AW.

“They were still invading us. You can be tough and do all those things, but you still have to be able to play four quarters.

“They beat us behind the game and things like that. They’re trying to do that and I don’t know if they are or not.

“Brad Scott came out and said it was the Essendon way but… I won’t go into that anyway.

“You can pretend to be tough, but you still have to win the ball and win the game.

“I think it’s all just a facade, but still.”

The Swans’ livewire were most affected when Wright scored on Cunningham and ruckman Sam Draper on Jake Lloyd in the second quarter – giving the Swans a goal from the ensuing 50-yard penalty.

While some welcomed Papley’s candid comments, others pointed out that he himself has had off-the-ball incidents in the past, including when he elbowed Collingwood’s Nick Daicos last year.

After the game, Brad Scott defended Wright as a fair player.

“I cannot comment on issues that may come before the MRO,” Scott said.

“The only thing I can say, and I won’t talk about the incident, is that Peter Wright is a well-known ballplayer, always has been, since he was a child.”

Former Geelong captain Cameron Ling expected Wright to be suspended for “weeks”.

“The way everything has changed in the off-season after the Brayden Maynard incident, I don’t think the AFL will care whether it’s a football deal or not,” Ling said on Channel 7.

“I think they will put the blame on Peter Wright and say he turned, pushed, hit a player in the head and gave him a concussion.

“I think he’s going to end up with a big case to answer for.

“Due to the postponement in the off-season, I expect several weeks. I think if you look back at last year, they decided that Maynard was going to get away with a football player trying to choke him, and then the contact was over.

“I think this time it will be different and he will get weeks.”

With the 30-point win, the Swans start the season 3-0, while Essendon start the new season 1-1 and are desperate to win a final for the first time since 2004.

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