The Bombers went down to Tasmania for the first time in 29 years.
The Hawks finally showed some fight in them and it was primarily driven from their youth, showing the virtuoso-like talents of Alastair Clarkson, and this bodes well for their future.
This leaves the Bombers a game and some percentage outside the eight. If they’re any chance to make finals this year then they need to win at least one of the next two rounds.
Sam Draper played in his first match since the ill-fated Port Adelaide adventure a couple of months ago.
Draper put in an extremely heartening performance in his first game back with 15 disposals, 14 contested possessions and seven intercept possessions as he played an extremely competent game for a ruckman.
While the statistics don’t speak to the magnificence of his mullet (and his performance, I guess), it was something of an eye test to see that Draper makes the Bombers walk taller and absolutely dominate the clearances.
The other positive feature of Draper’s game is that he managed to stay out on the field for a majority of the match, and while he did have some odd mistakes and did disappear out of the match somewhat, that’s to be expected coming back off a syndesmosis injury.
This performance is definitely attributable to his glorious mullet taking control of the match, like Samson going down to Tasmania.
No Parish, no problem
Darcy Parish has put together a spectacular season to be a smokey for the Brownlow but on Sunday afternoon he was comparatively quiet.
Part of this may have to do with Jai Newcombe applying the clamps. I’m just surprised that it took this long for a side to apply a tag to Darcy Parish.
That being said, I’m not criticising the man as he still played extremely well, with 24 disposals and a goal, he was just down on his lofty standards this year.
Complicating matters for Parish is the recent injuries to Andy McGrath and Dylan Shiel, leaving the Bombers very light on in the midfield.
Now, I don’t doubt this will only be a temporary decline and believe fervently that Parish will return to his usual lofty standards this week against the Demons.
The Package delivers
Jake ‘The Package, aka Packo’ Stringer put together the best performance of his Bombers career, perhaps of his career to date.
With 29 disposals, four goals and eight tackles, Stringer was in everything. He delivered a Dustin Martin-like performance with clearing the ball, explosive gut running and high pressure football.
The Bombers scored 21 times and Stringer was involved in 12 of them. Stringer brought a new sense of dynamism to the Bombers midfield and delivered on the potential he has frequently teased.
Without Jake Stringer the Bombers do not win that game. He put Essendon on his back and dragged them over the line.
This performance both reveals the renewed importance of the striker role, as well as indicating that the Bombers need to continue to develop players like Archie Perkins and Kyle Langford so they can provide bigger bodies around the contests.
Rising Star Harry Jones
The three-quarter sleeves worked. Harry Jones was galloping up and down the field in a performance more reminiscent of prime Nick Riewoldt, rather than a second-year key forward.
In his deserved Rising Star nominated performance, he gathered five contested marks (should’ve been six), and two goals (should’ve been three).
Jones has been a very handy acquisition for the Bombers and this goes to the understated nature of Adrian Doddorro’s drafting of late, where, because he’s removed the majority of our first round picks, he’s been forced to be creative.
But back to Jones: he covered the ground extremely well and is showing more signs that he will be able to take the next step and push Cale Hooker out of the side (not that I have anything against Cale).
So, there you have it, folks, my takeaways from the Round 14 clash with the Hawks.
I am concerned, given the Bombers do not have much depth at the moment, but they’ve wildly outperformed their expectations in the first half of this season.
I believe that if we can make finals (and that is admittedly a big if), we will scare some sides.
6. James Stewart (1 vote)
5. Jordan Ridley (7 votes)
4. Harry Jones (8 votes)
3. Nick Hind (21 votes)
2. Sam Draper (5 votes)
1. Jake Stringer (20 votes)
1. Darcy Parish (40 votes)
2. Zach Merrett (38 votes)
3. Nick Hind (21 votes)