The Essendon Bombers were convincingly defeated by the Brisbane Lions in a wet matchup at the Gabba on Saturday night, being trumped by 57 points.
Cale Hooker was one of the lone bright spots for the Bombers, as he added four goals to his 2021 tally that is quietly putting him in contention for the Coleman Medal.
Hooker has now kicked 16 goals for the season, with the season-opener being the only time he has kicked less than three goals in a game. He currently sits comfortably as the fifth highest goalkicker in the competition.
Hooker fought hard against All-Australian defender Harris Andrews, and had few hands with him on the night.
Ben Rutten sung the praises of Hooker’s efforts against the Lions.
“Hooker, in particular, competed really well for us ahead of the ball,” he said.
“He competed, often, against two people, brought it to ground, competed on the ground and fought really hard.”
Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath played hard through the midfield, and attempted to keep the ball coming in to the advantage of Hooker and his forward group.
MORE ESSENDON NEWS
‘One of the hardest games I’ve ever had to play in’: Wanganeen
Archie Perkins showed that his future is bright, as he was clean with 20 disposals and four tackles. Despite his youth and inexperience, Perkins looked like one of the coolest heads as the Bombers struggled early.
Rutten looked at the positives for Perkins, having a great first-hand view of the Lions’ elite midfielders.
“Archie Perkins, going into the last quarter, played on Lachie Neale at stoppages, that was a great learning curve for him as well,” he said.
“That exposes him to another area of the game but Archie gets an invaluable lesson to play on a Brownlow medallist in just his fourth game.”
Nik Cox also showed that his breakout game last week against the Swans was not a fluke, as he continued his growth, showing remarkable poise and skill for a young man. It is especially worth noting his size and his smooth hands below his knees.
Rutten talked about how Cox learned some midfield craft as well.
“Their wingers worked really hard, often making the extra number forward of the ball,” he said.
“And that’s a great learning for Nik Cox, and he got a good look at [Hugh] McLuggage and [Mitch] Robinson and got a good look at their work rate and positioning, and that’s great learning for him.”
Rutten was looking at the positives after the game.
“Lots of little things to improve on,” he said.
“Stoppage craft. Forward craft. We just drop off in little patches and it just shows when you play quality opposition like tonight
“We did it in patches, but there were also times, especially early on, where we got ourselves in trouble.”
Defender Jordan Ridley suffered a concussion early, and will be out for 12 days under the AFL mandated policy.
The Bombers will look to turn the page to preparing for Anzac Day, when they take on a depleted Collingwood Magpies outfit.
Subscribe to our newsletter!