Essendon beat Adelaide in AFL opener

By Steve Larkin,


3 Have your say

    Besieged Essendon emerged from a drugs cloud to open the AFL season with a spirited 35-point upset win against Adelaide on Friday night.

    The Bombers showed tremendous ticker in their 18.9 (117) to 11.16 (82) away triumph at AAMI Stadium.

    Essendon didn’t score for the initial 20 minutes as they conceded the initial three goals, but then steamrolled the fancied Crows.

    Utility Ben Howlett sparked the Bombers’ comeback and capped a best-afield game with four goals while Alwyn Davey booted three.

    Essendon midfielders Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell and Brent Stanton were prominent and ruckman Tom Bellchambers shaded big Crow Sam Jacobs.

    Adelaide struggled for clear winners with Richard Douglas (two goals), on-baller Matthew Wright and defender Brent Reilly among their best while Taylor Walker kicked three goals from limited chances.

    Leading into the match, coach James Hird hailed his players’ resilience amid the club being investigated for possibly using banned drugs last season.

    And his charges demonstrated terrific character to fight back after a fast-starting Adelaide streeted to an early 22-0 advantage.

    Essendon didn’t kicked a goal until the 27th minute of the first quarter and appeared fortunate to only trail by 13 points at quarter-time.

    But the Bombers blitzed Adelaide with six goals to one in the second quarter, with Howlett kicking two and setting up another, as the victors took a handy 14-point break into halftime.

    And their lively goalsneak Davey ensured they were never headed by booting three goals in the third quarter, including one from a controversial new law.

    Adelaide’s Reilly slid into Davey’s legs while gathering the ball, only for the Bomber to be given the free kick under the rule which penalises any sliding into an opponent’s legs.

    The goal helped Essendon stifle Adelaide, who repeatedly threatened a comeback but, after their initial three-goal spree, couldn’t kick consecutive goals for the rest of a match attended by 42,218 spectators.

    Essendon coach James Hird said the victory was based on more than just an emotional response to the club’s drugs saga.

    “Emotion only takes you so far,” Hird said.

    “I didn’t find that the players before the game were overly emotional or overly excited.

    “The first 10 minutes showed that maybe we kept them emotionally a bit flatter than perhaps we could have.

    “But the way they played the game, it obviously means a lot to us … because the eyes of the footballing public are on us.”

    Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said his side’s glaring weakness was an inability to lay tackles on the Bombers, who landed 26 more tackles than the Crows.

    “We couldn’t stick tackles and they brushed us away,” he said.

    “A 35 point loss is not what you want in round one and is very disappointing for our footy club.”

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 2:56pm
      Lroy said | March 23rd 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      Good game of footy actaully….. with 6 minutes to go the Crows, who hadn’t done much were still only 18 points down?? half expected them to nick it at the end, but it was the Bombers who piled on the next 4 or so goals to seal a well deserved win.

      Only round one, but the Bombers looked good accross the board, Watson was sublime… as was the hairy faced mature aged recruit making his debut (forget his name, sorrry)… and they have some mobile talls across the board who all did well..

      Crows.. hmm. Walker was nice at times, Dutch guy in the middle (Von Berlow?) had a few good touches… overall.. they looked a bit flat..

      Finally we can take our minds of tanking, doping, bizarre political games and the massacre of our national cricket team… its footy time, and life just seems that little bit better :–)

      Cant wait to see the Eagles and Dockers go at it, that should be a crackerl!!!

    • March 24th 2013 @ 11:50am
      Philip Maguire said | March 24th 2013 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      Great game by The Bombers but forget Hurley as a forward. He’s a straight ahead good old fashioned backman and should be down there with Fletch, Carlisle and Hibberd. Drop Gumby in at CHF and rest Ryder and Belchambers at full forward.

    • March 25th 2013 @ 10:00am
      vocans said | March 25th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      Many things missing from the Crows and a lot to think about. The match committee might look at the decision not to play more of the preferred 22 in the NAB Cup – underdone performance really. Maybe it was not lack of tackle practice behind the low number of tackles that stuck? You need real focus to tackle well. Good Bomber pressure revealed the Crows weren’t ready for the minor round.

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