Short answer, how good is footy? The last four matches between the Swans and Bombers have been decided by ten points or less and this win for the Swans brings the aggregate wins for each side since the Swans moved north to 30-30 with one draw.
This game had it all. Swings in momentum, bold passages of end to end footy, and egregious misinterpretations of the rules. While I am heartbroken for my boys, they did have their chances but failed to take them. The Swans had clearance domination over my Bombers and they had 28-20 scoring shots; the Dons had no right to be as close as they were but it speaks to their resilience as a playing group and their ability to keep their heads up in light of the opposition.
Kicking six goals either side of quarter time, the Bombers looked to have the ascendancy early over the very fancied Sydney outfit. This was largely built on ensuring the Swans did not have unobstructed access to the corridor, and clogging up the box of short options surrounding the Swans player, something that I am surprised Richmond didn’t do last week.
The forward half turnovers made the Swans look lethargic and lazy as the smooth-moving Essendon players took their chances early, in particular Jake Stringer and Darcy Parish were able to get a couple of quick goals with Parish’s miraculous snap from the deep pocket an early contender for the goal of the year. However, you give the Bloods an inch and they will take a mile, the swings in momentum resulted in a continually see-sawing contest throughout the match. I, for one, await the return fixture later this year at Marvel Stadium.
The score of 11.17 (83) to 12.8 (80) flattered the Bombers somewhat as the Swans bookended their performance with horrendous shots on goal. In the first quarter, the home side kicked 2.5, before kicking 2.6 in the last. This accounted for a super majority of their behinds and a minority of their goals. This is something that Horse and the much vaunted assistance of Don Pyke need to bear in mind when coming up against other sides in future.
I believe that part of this score was attributable to Essendon’s pressure on post-clearance possession and clogging up the corridor such that the Swans didn’t have an easy time of moving the ball end to end. The pressure on the ball in transition led to the Swans being clipped with dozens of low quality entries in the forward 50. This shows the Bombers to be a blue collar side built on effort and exceptionally well drilled by the intelligent coaching of Ben Rutten, Daniel Giansiracusa, and Blake Caracalla.
Nik Cox and Nick Hind were among the best players for Essendon on a dour night. In the third quarter, Hind went on a line break dash that was reminiscent of Adam Saad’s highlights when he was with the club. Being traded from the Saints for a solitary third-round pick, Hind is proving to be a very solid acquisition, with the potential to push Stefan Martin and Lachie Fogarty as the most valuable-for-money acquisition this season.
Cox on the other hand, moves with the grace of a gazelle and coordination that is unfair for someone who is 202cm tall. Josh Mahoney has said he believes Cox will inevitably find himself as an inside midfielder in the future (not a ruckman – an inside midfielder), and if the highlight package from early in his career is anything to go by, he is already a creative and confident player that will only get better with age.
The free kick count was exceptionally lopsided in favour of the Swans. I am willing to acknowledge that umpiring is a difficult job, and they’re always going to end up on the receiving end of vitriolic criticism from spectators. But what stood out to me was the many times that players (on both sides) just straight up dropped the ball, a particularly bad example sticks out from Tom Hickey where he took the ball out of the ruck and took a few steps and was tackled and dropped the ball. This is still holding the ball even under the new interpretation of the rules regarding taking the ball out of the ruck contest.
The second particularly egregious rulings were the deliberate out of bounds, deliberate out of bounds is only supposed to be ruled when there is no one near the ball. Yet the umpires paid multiple deliberate out of bounds free kicks when they did not meet the requisite threshold for calling deliberate out of bounds. Each time this kick was called it resulted in a shot on goal for the Swans, this is not a good look for the game. To simply blame the parochial Swans fans is disingenuous and minimalist but it is something that the AFL umpiring association needs to improve.
Now, before we move onto the best I am going to announce the best players for rounds 1 and 2.
1. Andy McGrath (6)
2. Zach Merrett (11)
3. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (4)
4. Dyson Heppell (3)
5. Nick Hind (2)
6. Jye Caldwell (1)
1. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (10)
2. Mason Redman (5)
3. Nick Hind (6)
4. Cale Hooker (5)
5. Will Snelling (2)
6. Jordan Ridley (4)
1. Nik Cox (6)
2. Will Snelling (7)
3. Jake Stringer (7)
4. Zach Merrett (14)
5. Darcy Parrish (7)
6. Dyson Heppell (4)
1. Zach Merrett (14 votes)
2. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (10 votes).
3. Will Snelling, Jake Stringer and Darcy Parish (7 votes)
As always thanks for reading guys, I look forward to the Bombers pegging one back over the Swans in Round 20 this year.