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Essendon coach John Worsfold hopes some tough lessons were learnt by his players following Saturday night’s AFL loss to Fremantle.
The Bombers started the 2018 season with a stirring comeback victory over Adelaide but couldn’t back that up against the Dockers at Optus Stadium.
The Bombers trailed for most of the game in front of almost 50,000 fans in Perth before losing by 16 points.
It was a mixed night for Essendon’s trio of star off-season recruits with Devon Smith the pick of them with 20 possessions, 13 tackles and a goal.
Adam Saad shook off an apparent leg injury for 16 disposals but Western Bulldogs 2016 premiership forward Stringer was found wanting.
He did lay five tackles but had only nine possessions while failing to hit the scoreboard.
Worsfold is comfortable with how the trio have fitted in, but in Stringer’s case, it will take time to work out how to get the best from him alongside key forwards Joe Daniher, Cale Hooker and James Stewart.
“They are settling in really well but they are raw and new to what we are asking them to do,” Worsfold said.
“There’s a fair bit of work to do with their roles and more so Stringer. We are going to work on where he’s going to add the most value to us.
“We’re not going to work that out in one or two games, that’s going to take the course of this year weighing up what our best structure looks like in our team with the personnel we’ve now got.”
Stewart did manage two goals, but Daniher was held goalless for the first time since Round 7, 2016 and Hooker’s lone goal came at the 24-minute of the last quarter.
Worsfold puts more of the blame for their low output on the way the team moved the ball further up the ground by playing into Fremantle’s hands though.
“We still didn’t really give them enough of a chance with those turnovers when we were out and ready to go. We’d cough the ball up through poor decision-making or going too fast so we didn’t allow our forwards to get back and set inside our forward-line,” Worsfold said.
“The message to the players was that if we are going that fast every time, Fremantle always keep a couple of players back so if we don’t give our forwards time to get back and set up, we’ll be kicking into at least one extra number for them.
“Conor McKenna still takes off every time even when the message is out to use our loose numbers around the ball and give our forwards the time to get back. It’s about us learning as a group.”