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Ready for a run at the eight: Essendon Round 17 review

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Roar Guru
10th July, 2021
59

It was a dirty night from both sides on Friday.

It was a down night for Adelaide, as they were kept to their lowest score in 30 years, and it was a down night for the Bombers, who kicked 11 goals but 18 behinds.

That said, it was undoubtedly good to get a win after two losses against premiership hopefuls in the past month, and I’ll certainly take the 63-point margin.

Essendon hold Adelaide to their lowest ever score
The previous record was 24 points against St Kilda in 2011, which Ben Rutten also played in, oddly enough. The Crows played a lethargic kick-mark fashion that fed into the Bombers’ strong intercepting game, and with very little forward momentum.

The poor lateral kicking enabled Essendon to zone off and repel them 57 times. This may be a comparatively low number of turnovers, but consider that the number of lateral kicks resulted in 108 marks for the Crows.

So poor was the Crows’ forward movement that it resulted in Jayden Laverde (eight intercepts, 11 marks), and Mason Redman (eight intercepts, 25 disposals) having a field day down back, while the Bombers overall had nine more intercept marks than the Adelaide Crows.

It signifies the immense amount of growth in body positioning and tactical nous that has occurred with the Bombers in the backline this year, and it is hopefully the harbinger of their growth over the next few seasons.

Zach Merrett celebrates with Essendon teammates Nick Hind and David Zaharakis.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Archie Perkins the magnificent maestro
The long-haired Adonis was magnificent on Friday night in his best game for the Bombers. He kicked three goals and three behinds, gathered 18 disposals and had a game-high nine score involvements, earning him a near-certain rising star nod this week. That said, he probably should’ve kicked more goals this week, as the easy shots were hard and the mercurial shots were easy.

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His development may slate him for more midfield minutes, but right now he appears to be relishing his forward role and the flexibility that the dual position gives. After news of Zach Reid’s injury removing him from calculations for the remainder of the year, it was good to see something of a resurgence, with Nik Cox also returning to form, with 19 disposals playing on a wing.

Worrying accuracy concerns
The Bombers have kept their faint finals hopes alive to sit just outside the top eight, jumping ahead of Richmond on percentage. It may appear that I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, but 11 goals 18 behinds was atrocious accuracy. With that many scoring shots we should’ve won by 100 points. We just lacked the killer instinct.

The scoreline obscures a deeper problem we have with low-quality inside 50s. Cale Hooker has been emblematic of these concerns, with one goal three behinds. Hooker is the beating heart of the Essendon footy club, and this is the negative side of that – where he becomes a barometer for the Bombers.

The Bombers have routinely got around 60 inside 50s, but this merely disguises their poor quality. This win was vitally important for Essendon’s hopes of making a surprise finals run, but percentage will be extremely important.

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Darcy Parish has the screws put to him
There is no denying that Parish has had a spectacular season. He is in the top ten in nearly every statistic that makes a midfielder great, but he was held to 19 disposals on Friday night as Harry Schoenberg put the screws to him and ran with him as a deep tagger.

However, looking for the positives, I can see that the Bombers are building a diverse and dangerous midfield that has not existed for as long as I’ve been alive. Zach Merrett and Jake Stringer were both able to break off the chain, with 35 and 23 disposals respectively. Stringer was able to get his fourth consecutive game with 20 or more disposals, while Will Snelling and Nik Cox were both able to effectively display their wares and importance to the Bombers midfield.

Building from the back
Finally, I just want to shout out the back six at the Bombers. They’ve been rightfully criticised for conceding massive scores in a short amount of time, but Daniel Giansiracusa has revolutionised the back six. Jayden Laverde, Nick Hind and Mason Redman all have a credible case to press for the most improved players across the entire competition.

While it isn’t great that we are missing the commanding presence of Dyson Heppell, that was more than compensated for by Jordan Ridley and Mason Redman, who were both fantastic nipping Adelaide attacks in the bud.

Hopefully Friday’s win is something of a springboard off which the Bombers can build towards the finals. With the Swans and Giants both confronting the very real possibility of hub life and all the stress that goes with that, the Bombers have a massive opportunity to make the eight.

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Best six

  1. Peter Wright (8 votes)
  2. Jayden Laverde (6 votes)
  3. Jake Stringer (31 votes)
  4. Zach Merrett (52 votes)
  5. Archie Perkins (10 votes)
  6. Mason Redman (20 votes)

Leaderboard

  1. Zach Merrett (52 votes)
  2. Darcy Parish (51 votes)
  3. Jake Stringer (31 votes)

Well there you have it, Roarers. As always, let me know what your takeaways are from the game down in the comments. I’ve been very impressed with the Bombers – they’ve won the games that are there to be won and are sitting pretty for a run at the eight.

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