MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -Sydney's Adam Goodes emerged from a week in which he was at the eye of a storm over racial abuse in Australian Rules football by kicking four goals to lead the Swans to a 44-point win over Essendon in the 10th round of the Australian Football League.
Goodes, an Australian Aboriginal, had confronted a 13-year-old girl in the crowd the previous week after she called him an ape.
The issue was reignited midweek when Eddie McGuire, president of the Collingwood club that the girl supported, said on his radio show that Goodes should be used in the marketing of the musical King Kong.
Goodes was distressed by both incidents and there were suggestions he could pull out of the game against Essendon, but he took the field and helped Sydney to a 17.13 (115) to 10.11 (71) win over the Bombers in a rain-sodden match. Ruckman Shane Mumford, on-baller Josh Kennedy and skipper Kieren Jack were also key contributors.
"Nothing much probably surprises me with Goodesy," Sydney coach John Longmire said. "There were times during the week when he was exhausted and ... he was still pretty tired on Thursday and then he freshened up yesterday and felt really good today, which is a real credit to him."
Sydney, third in the standings behind Geelong and Hawthorn, looked a cut above fifth-placed Essendon whose coach, James Hird, acknowledged the Bombers have to improve substantially to challenge the league's top three.
"The Swans, Geelong and probably Hawthorn are the three teams that look to be the best three in the competition," Hird said. "Against both Geelong and the Swans we've come up a bit short. Right at this moment, we're just a little bit off those top three teams."
Geelong booted 9.5 to 1.2 in the final quarter to beat Gold Coast 18.15 (123) to 10.11 (71), marking its first match under floodlights at its home stadium and holding its place atop the premiership table.
Gold Coast, led by former Geelong great Gary Ablett Jr., pressed the Cats hard in greasy conditions to be level at three-quarter time but could not sustain that level in the final quarter. Geelong has won 37 of its past 38 home games.
Mitch Duncan and Jimmy Bartel had 30 possessions each while Nathan Vardy kicked four goals in his first match this season following hip and groin injuries.
"It was stressful," Geelong coach Chris Scott said. "We didn't play well early, but we've all got to stop talking about (Gold Coast) as a young, developing expansion team. They're a good team.
"They played really well in the slippery conditions and pressured us better than we pressured them early. But the reason I'm in a good mood now is that quarter was fantastic."
Premiership favorite Hawthorn crushed struggling Melbourne on Sunday 21.17 (143) to 6.12 (48) and North Melbourne beat St. Kilda 19.19 (133) to 10.5 (65).
In other matches Collingwood won 14.16 (100) to 7.9 (51) at Brisbane to lie in seventh place behind Carlton, who predictably cruised past Greater Western Sydney 22.16 (148) to 8.6 (54). Fourth place Fremantle notched an impressive interstate win by beating Adelaide 10.6 (66) to 8.11 (59) in another wet game and the Western Bulldogs beat Port Adelaide 10.7 (67) to 8.10 (58) in Darwin.