Welcome to my Round 8 review for the Essendon Bombers.
It was disappointing not to get the win against the more favoured Giants, but I believe my Bombers showed grit and determination to compete as they did in the environment in which they did.
I had the rare joy (as a Sydneysider) of being able to watch my Bombers in person today, and I believe if you listen closely to the wonderful acoustics at Giant stadium you can hear me exhorting my outrage at the results albeit with substantially more expletives as I am want to do.
Read on for my key takeaways from the Round 8 clash between the Giants and the Bombers.
1. The Giants get the jump on the Bombers
There’s the old saying from Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. The Bombers were able to take the lead for one minute and 18 seconds according to the AFL website in large part thanks to a strong mark from Peter Wright in the middle of a dense pack early in the first quarter.
From then on it was almost entirely Giants as they raced to a 38-14 quarter time lead which was the proverbial punch to the face.
There was also a literal elbow to the head with Jeremy Finlayson cleaning Zach Merrett up off the ball for which I believe he should get a couple of weeks for. However, as Merrett played out the game he is likely only to get a fine in what is yet another instance of AFL fecklessness in light of their public assertions they wish to protect the head.
Additionally, Shane Mumford added insult to injury when he drove his knees into the back of Merret’s head. However, this is likely to be viewed as accidental contact to the head.
However, the roll ons that sides are experiencing is something of a problem for the Bombers with them giving up strong leads in the Hawthorn game and the Carlton game while they were also hammered in the Brisbane and Port Adelaide game indicating a worrying trend for the young side.
2. Turnovers are a coach killer
The Bombers appeared like a Baby Giraffe unsteady on its legs as their disposal left a lot to be desired. While their turnover count across the game was a comparatively respectable 72 to 68 there were still some absolutely horrendous clangers from the Bombers – particularly coming out of defence.
Dyson Heppell and Jayden Laverde accounted for seven clangers by themselves, a particularly damning stat when you consider their experience and that they’re both defenders.
In the midfield it was no better with Kyle Langford, Darcy Parrish and the milestone man himself Zach Merrett occupying the top three positions on the ground in terms of the number of clangers they had.
I believe this is primarily attributable to the relative inexperience of the Bombers as they carried 11 players with 10 games or fewer in experience, while the Giants were larger and playing at home – both of which would lend themselves to a Giants win with the modern game built on territory and winning the ball at the coal face.
Furthermore, the post-clearance possession pressure was immense as the Giants refused to allow the Bombers any peace.
3. Bombers are developing a potent offense
The Bombers have a total aggregate scoreline that belies their humble 15th place at the moment, with 745 points across eight rounds (a league-high).
Unfortunately for Essendon supporters, they are also conceding a high amount of points second only to North Melbourne with 779 across the first eight rounds. The reason for the differential is not due to the string of close games that have gone against the Bombers, but the large defeats to Port Adelaide and Brisbane both away from home.
This is in part because of the inconsistency of the young side, and structural deficits in their defensive planning due to an inexperienced head coach.
The Bombers have always been an offensively capable team but the decision-making surrounding their list has led to them being considered a near shoo-in for one of the bottom four positions.
In more optimistic news, it was still the Bombers young guns who continued to put their best foot forward with players like Kyle Langford (three goals, seven score involvements, and nine marks), Archie Perkins (one goal one behind, 13 possessions, and four score involvements), Harry Jones (two goals), and Matt Guelfi who tackled the house down in a quarter and a half of play.
While the Bombers older heads struggled to have any influence on the game with Cale Hooker held goalless and was deprived of a free-kick that would have given him a shot on goal. Dyson Heppell kicked a couple of absolutely horrendous clangers, and Zach Merrett was allowed to run rampant through the midfield without much clearance success.
4. This one’s for the AFL
As I sit here writing this, Jeremy Finlayson has got a week for his late hit on Zach Merrett. This is another example of the feckless officiating from the AFL that weighs the outcome far too much instead of weighting the action itself.
If the AFL is serious about tackling concussions and the actions that lead up to them they need to begin bringing these actions up at the tribunal even if they don’t result in concussions.
If the AFL wants to avoid a major lawsuit or more instances like what happened to Shane Tuck, or Danny Frawley then they need to begin stamping these actions out.
Andrew Phillips (1 vote).
Mason Redman (9 votes).
Matt Guelfi (3 votes).
Kyle Langford (4 votes).
Darcy Parrish (18 votes).
Zach Merrett (24 votes).
Zach Merrett (24 votes).
Darcy Parrish (18 votes).
Anthony McDonald Tippungwuti (17 votes).
Thanks for reading guys. I hope you enjoyed reading this instalment of the Bombers season review. I like the Bombers going to their youth this season, and I believe it is paying off on the scoreboard.
However, people did not expect them to have such a potent offense nor did I expect them to be playing in such an assertive manner, I have been impressed with them thus far and hope they continue to show this in the next few rounds with very winnable games against Fremantle and North Melbourne to come.