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The Roar



Essendon's Round 3 review

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4th April, 2021

So I have noticed a trend of late on The Roar, that is people writing reviews or re-caps or their favourite team’s performance, such as the fine work by the Sports Bloke regarding Collingwood Magpies, or Jacob Walton’s work with the suddenly resurgent Adelaide Crows.

So I have decided to try my hand at this, and I intend to do so for every Essendon game remaining this year (come hell or high-water). So without further ado let us begin.

What a win ladies and gentlemen, the Bombers have shown optimistic signs in their season to date, but they’ve never so ruthlessly torn apart a side as they did so today. To take what was a premiership smokey at the start of the week and systematically and surgically deconstruct their side in such a ruthless fashion after the poor fortnight the Bombers have had is impressive.

They absolutely dominated possession (+111), tackles (+22), and marks (+41) the Bombers were able to give a significant boost to their percentage while getting the important first win on the board for their new coach.

So what impressed me the most? If I had to say specifically I would break it down into three specific categories: category 1 is the sustained dominance throughout the match, category 2 is the Bombers ability to separate the externalities of this game and win, and category 3 is the inspirational young guns the Bombers have blooded over the first few weeks.

Category 1: Sustained dominance
The Bombers have been something of a tease the last few years, they have shown the ability to play absolutely scintillating football at their best. Most recently they capitulated to fellow cellar dwellers Hawthorn after being up by 40 points at the main break, Clarko put on a masterclass to show his younger contemporary what swinging around the magnets really means.

The Bombers were able to repel the somewhat meek resistance of the St Kilda footy club and push through to build the confidence necessary to have a solid victory, hopefully, this trend does hold so the Bombers can surprise a few sides.

That being said the St Kilda opposition was absolutely insipid so it is uncertain how generalisable the results from this current game and how applicable the frenetic pressure brought to bear by the Bombers on the Saints will hold particularly with the increasing injury toll the Bombers have.

Zach Merrett of the Bombers handballs

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


Category 2: Phasing out the noise
The Bombers had the proverbial hell week as their performances in the first two rounds have left a lot to be desired. In particular, the injuries to Sam Draper (High Ankle Sprain- Syndesmosis Injury 8-10 weeks), Jye Caldwell (Hamstring injury 6-8 weeks), and Dylan Shiel (Meniscal damage six weeks) have left the Bombers desperate for support in the midfield and criticised from all directions for what have been considered mentally weak performances.

In particular, the Bombers were predicted to finish bottom two based on a woefully insignificant sample space, while this still may occur the Bombers were able to separate these externalities and put to the sword a highly fancied St Kilda outfight as they drew a swathe through the high-pressure game style of the Saints. Part of me is willing to attribute this to the adrenaline, and statistical regression to the mean but I still believe this shows the mental toughness of the Bombers side to phase out the noise and put their best foot forward.

Of particular note, the new faces brought in over the off-season showed why the Bombers pursued them in the first place. Nick Hind in particular is the early favourite to win the best and fairest as his dash and dare off the halfback line has provided the Bombers fans with some respite despite losing the talented Adam Saad in the off-season.

The other recruits today played well and fulfilled their role with Alec Waterman showing why the Bombers pursued him with his powerful booming left boot nailing a set shot from outside fifty as part of a well-rounded performance as a small forward.

Finally, there was Peter Wright, the former top 10 pick from the Gold Coast Suns, and make-shift ruckman for the Essendon Football Club. While his ungainly two-meter frame has had moments he does make the Essendon forward line a little bit too tall, moving to the ruck in an understrength St Kilda ruck department may prove to save his chances going forward at Essendon as he worked his way to 14 disposals, 19 hit outs and one behind.

His work through the centre of the ground to provide a vital linking player between the backline and forward lines was very important as the fast break Essendon side seamlessly cut through the St Kilda press.


Category 3: The young guns
The Bombers became the first side since Hawthorn in 2004 where they selected objective legends of the game Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead, and Jordan Lewis. So the standards on Zach Reid, Nikolas Cox, and Archie Perkins are high, while Reid is yet to debut the signs shown by Perkins and Cox show them to be promising prospects for the Bombers.

Cox in particular is an extremely versatile prospect who can play anywhere on the ground found himself in the ruck at times as well as the forward line, and the wing. Of particular note is the dexterity with which he carries his 200 cm frame and the ambidextrous nature of his kicking ability.

His goal in the first quarter as well as his bullet pass in the third quarter show him to be the chief among the first-year prospects that Essendon has recruited. Perkins on the other hand has a creative streak and plays with an enthusiasm endemic to youth, while he has not shown much in his debut I predict he will soon jump ahead of more advanced names in the Essendon forward-midfield hybrids.

Finally, there was Jones, he has shown a workmanlike ability to get into the right spots in the first few weeks, his big mark against his name was his goal kicking but today he was able to get into the right spots and kick goals that will do wonders for his confidence.

If the Essendon debutants this year are any indication I believe the Bombers can look forward to a lot of new names running around for the Bombers over the next year.

Best Six
Zach Merrett
Darcy Parrish
Aaron Francis
Jake Stringer
Jordan Ridley
Cale Hooker

Merrett (6)
Parrish (5)
Francis (4)
Stringer (3)
Ridley (2)
Hooker (1)