17/04/2024

The Bombers were clinical in their victory over the Hawks on Saturday afternoon. (Image: Essendon FC)

Inaccuracy was a killer for Hawthorn on Saturday afternoon at the MCG, as the Bombers made them pay and walked out with a 24-point victory.

Finishing with 11 goals and 17 behinds, compared to Essendon’s 17 goals and five behinds, the Hawks weren’t short of opportunities to run away with the game, but just couldn’t capitalise on their chances at goal in the end.

Essendon coach Brad Scott commended his side’s effort during his post-game press conference, touching on the good work Hawthorn did and how his side was able to combat it.

“To Hawthorn’s credit I thought they got ascendency at different stages and they certainly missed some shots and were able to transition really well,” he said.

“I was really proud of our coaching group, [and] also our playing group, that we were able to make adjustments to things that weren’t necessarily working for us.

“They put us under real pressure and I was really pleased with the response.

“The outcome is important clearly for all the fans, but I think what our fans want to see is massive effort… when you see Setterfield, chase down tackle, Caldwell, chase down tackle, Stringer didn’t get him but he’s chased through the middle of the ground, that’s stuff that our supporters can say, they’re having a massive crack these guys. That’s what we value.”

The Bombers stayed in front for the majority of the contest with some impressive attacking football. Jake Stringer was the clear standout up forward with four goals, while Archie Perkins was sensational for the Bombers, chalking up 24 disposals, 12 tackles, and two goals.

Scott praised Perkins and the role he played throughout the game against the Hawks, reaffirming that they are happy to utilise him in both areas of the ground.

“I heard John Longmire talk about Isaac Heeney, he’s an All-Australian forward but he’s clearly dominating through the midfield. Perk’s got a fair way to go to replicate what Isaac’s doing, but he’s a similar type in terms of [how] we really like him forward but we like him in the midfield too,” Scott said.

An early substitution for Zach Reid at half time due to injury saw the Bombers go into the third quarter much smaller, although they were able to adjust and close out the contest with Nik Cox spending more time down back alongside Ben McKay.

Scott was unsure about the true extent of Reid’s injury, but alleviated fears that it could have been anything significant.

“We don’t know [the true extent] yet. What we do know is that he came off with a tight hamstring,” he said.

“Is it a torn hamstring? No. There may be some damage, but if there is it’s minor.

“Reidy’s injury history is pretty well documented. We just wanted to take it out of their hands and take the cautious approach and sub him… hopefully he’s okay.”

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Scott was also quick to praise Ben McKay and Todd Goldstein for the work they did in their first game as Bombers, after crossing over from North Melbourne in last year’s trade period.

“They contributed and played their role really well. McKay gives us really good stability in the back half and took some really important intercept marks,” he said.

“Goldy’s just a workhorse. He’s got some attributes and capabilities [from being] an elite basketballer as a kid. He showed a bit of that today with a bit of candy here and there.

“I thought Peter Wright and Goldy did a really good job for us, particularly in the absence of (Sam) Draper.”

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell touched on how he felt that the game was a missed opportunity for his side due to their inaccuracy, despite the fact that they were within reach for a large portion of the contest.

“It’s a missed opportunity, being with them was not really how I saw the game,” he explained.

“I think we had a lot of opportunities, particularly in the second quarter, [and] we just couldn’t make the most of them.”

Stoppages were a key area in which the Hawks were comfortably beaten, with the Bombers generating plenty of scoring opportunities that would eventually guide them to victory.

Mitchell acknowledged this, but was also confident that there were enough positives in his side’s game for them to deal with those issues in the coming weeks.

“Centre bounces gave them the field position, and then I think the stoppage scores were significant in their favour,” he said.

“It was not particularly a pattern… whether it’s ball handling, being a bit too cute with it, trying to get perfect play too much, all those things we’ll continue to learn from.

“There were some positives, we just weren’t quite good enough to execute the plan to a high enough level, often enough. 

“I couldn’t question how hard the boys worked, I think if you came to this game and you watched it live, you watched the work rate of our players and said they are enormously invested in what they’re trying to do.”

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