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Opinion

Essendon Round 7 review

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3rd May, 2021
10

The Bombers went into Round 7 high off the recent victory over the meek Magpies last week.

Facing an under pressure and much criticised Carlton, the Bombers gave it their best shot.

Yet, it was not to be; the Bombers gave it a red hot crack and their effort was undeniable but there was an element of raw talent about the Bombers that the bigger and tougher Blues were able to exploit.

Read on for my summary of Essendon’s Round 7 loss to Carlton.

Livin’ Laverde Loca
I thought of this pun last week and it was too good to pass up for this week.

His 17 disposals indicate his growing structural importance to the Essendon backline is such that he may very well save his career with his consistency if he can keep it up.

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Along with his 348 metres gained, Laverde also intercepted the ball seven times from Carlton disposals. The one blemish on his record is his disposal efficiency, which went at the comparatively poor 64.7 per cent.

That being said, the initial growth that Laverde has experienced in his new position is good to see as his career has frequently been denied by injury or form, and he very well may be on his way to a new contract after being thrown up as trade bait not two years ago.

Furthermore, James Stewart looks to be the goods as a key backman with the strength and the height to take the big bullocking forwards, something that was uncertain a couple of years ago as he was almost as injury prone as Joe Daniher.

While Harry McKay was able to get off the chain towards the end of the game, that’s what you expect of the best key forwards. He was well held by Laverde and Stewart in this game.

Essendon name league-high sixth debutant
Nick Bryan has become the league-high sixth debutant in seven rounds for the Essendon Football Club.

The Bombers were always going to have to blood new talent given their unique mix of injuries and trades they’ve experienced over the last 12 to 18 months.

They have been forced to make these changes but the exuberance and energy these players have brought to the Essendon side are undeniable.

In particular, the performance of Harry Jones was the best of his short career, with five contested marks and three goals.

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Despite being a skinny key forward, he has been able to throw what little weight he has around at the contest and improve his set shot out of sight.

The performances of Archie Perkins and Nikolas Cox continue to astound and impress.

Archie Perkins of the Bombers

Essendon’s Archie Perkins (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

With the addition of Nick Bryan to the mix, he may very well be keeping Sam Draper out of the side by the end of the year.

I look forward to the growth and development of the rising young core of the Bombers.

Whilst the Bombers introducing six debutants this year is most certainly a net positive for the outlook going forward, there was issues with the Bombers’ play.

Brayden Ham and Nik Cox, as our wingmen, need to get the ball more frequently – collecting the ball 11 and 14 times respectively.

Nikolas Cox of the Bombers

Nikolas Cox of the Bombers (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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While I am willing to accept they are still learning their roles, they have struggled in this aspect repeatedly.

Perhaps more concerning was Andy McGrath, who has often been touted as a future captain of the club. He was able to get the ball 29 times (which was good), however, his disposal went at 54 per cent, and his score involvements were well down on his midfield counterparts.

Now, the one constant of youthful players is the fact that they’re going to be inconsistent, but I believe that constructive criticism is important for their ongoing development and necessary to build a positive culture around the club.

Essendon rue their inaccuracy
While the league has largely improved their accuracy, in large part thanks to the new ‘stand’ rule improving the quality of the inside-50s that sides are having, the Bombers were unable to capitalise on the opportunities they had, despite having only one less scoring shot than the Blues.

Additionally, the Bombers did appear gassed towards the end of the game, as the Blues managed to drive their way towards a three-goal lead.

In particular, questions have arisen regarding the two behinds kicked by Archie Perkins and two behinds kicked by Jake Stringer.

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If the Bombers want to ambush some teams this year they either need to increase the pressure on the ball carrier (which is already high) or they need to be more accurate with the ball in hand.

Exacerbating matters was the five free kicks that resulted in goals for the Blues.

However, Essendon struggled and struggled to no avail and the Blues were able to clench to hold onto the win.

Best six
Archie Perkins (four votes)
Anthony McDonald Tippungwuti (17 votes)
Devon Smith (three votes)
Jake Stringer (11 votes)
Harry Jones (five votes)
Cale Hooker (15 votes)

Leaderboard
Zach Merrett (18 votes)
Anthony McDonald Tippungwuti (17 votes)
Cale Hooker (15 Votes)

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Thanks for reading, Roarers.

The Bombers are building towards something – it’s the first time I can say that in a couple of years.

They will benefit from getting a solid amount of games into their young jets, while the adjustment of some of their forwards in Stewart and Laverde into key backs initially shows promising signs.

Naturally, there will be some teething issues for the Bombers.

While I don’t like losing, to our historical rival no less, I must admit that Carlton were better on the day and put together some very good passages of play.