Alternate Worlds – Essendon v Hawthorn

Parochialism is great, but only when there is an alternate view you can use to balance things out. There is no way both sets of supporters ever walk away from a game feeling completely satisfied. There is always a winner and a loser… or two teams that played to a draw and no one is happy.

In order to capture the feelings and thoughts of both teams, irrespective of the outcome, Nick Sluggett and HB Meyers went into watching this game as fans with eyes only for one team. The Slugger was all about the Bombers, whilst HB wore the brown and gold of his mighty Hawks.

Below is the dual review from two Mongrels with very different perspectives on the game. It’s the Bombers and the Hawks. Two Mongrels. Two points of view. One article. And one winner.




HAWKS –It was Andrew McGrath, and not by a little bit, either.

When I looked at this game, one area I thought Hawthorn *may* have a little advantage was in winning a clearance or ten. I bloody hate being wrong.

McGrath got his hands on everything, like Joe Ganino at a swingers party. He was huge in the pivotal third quarter, and with Kyle Langford dropping the hammer on us in the last quarter, I should probably give him a mention as well.


BOMBERS –Andy McGrath.

Most of the Bombers did their best Bobby Boucher impersonation and showed up at half time. That meant McGrath would’ve felt pretty lonely playing a lone hand out there. But jeez, when his teammates decided they wanted to come with him, did he relish it. Surely the Bombers’ upcoming opponents have put a big mark next to his name. If you want to stop the Dons, you have to stop this guy.

McGrath had so much time in traffic in this game. So many times, he gathered the ball in a stoppage and still had time to assess his options before deciding what he would do. It was Scott Pendlebury-like. The game just slowed down for him. And the way he just glided over the turf. I clearly don’t watch enough games from the Bombers point-of-view as he was just so clearly above most others out there. How have I not seen this before?




HAWKS –The first quarter.

Forget about how we capitulated like weak little bitches in the third quarter; it was the first quarter, and kicking 3.4 when it should have been 6.1 and the game should have been over. Hawthorn repeated the dose in the second quarter to end the half with 7.10 and they really should have been nine goals up.

I turned to a very happy Mrs Mongrel, who had tipped Hawthorn whilst I tipped Essendon and said that the Hawks had wasted their chances and if Essendon kicked the first of the third quarter they were back in it. And geez, weren’t they back in it!

They kicked five goals to one in the third and the Hawks died like a sick goldfish.  Had they made more of their chances, the third quarter would not have mattered so much.


BOMBERS – We won the game at the stoppages. It should be no surprise since our best player was in there in McGrath. We won the centre clearance 20-6. That must be some sort of record. What a walloping.  Even when we were crap in the first half, we were still winning it, we just kept trying to handball all the way to the bloody goal line.

The Hawks were more respectable in the around-the-ground stoppages, but we still account for them by seven. Big props to my underrated man in Andrew Phillips. He was crucial.




HAWKS –It’s always easy in hindsight, isn’t it?

Perhaps Gunston to the half back line once the Bombers kicked a couple on the trot. Wingard into the middle considering we couldn’t get a touch at clearances.

The Bombers won the centre clearances 19-7 as either Jonathon Ceglar was rucking with his eyes closed, or the Hawks mids just didn’t want it enough.

Ceglar had 29 hit outs – eight ahead of his opponent, Andrew Phillips but he was completely unable to find a teammate with any of his taps at all.

Someone manning up Adam Saad in the last quarter may have been a nice idea as well. He only had it six times, but seemed to be prevalent at every stoppage down the wing with the game on the line.

Finally, Liam Shiels to Zach Merrett would have been nice. Merrett had 36 touches – 32 of them uncontested. Not sure how that was missed.


BOMBERS – I am not sure. You could say plenty about the first half, but in the second half most of those aspects came good. The defenders tightened up. We started to take serious advantage of our stoppage dominance. We had a good spread of goalkickers. The handballs started being used effectively instead of haphazardly.

Potentially pushing Hooker forward earlier, as it was a change that clearly worked as McEvoy had to go to Daniher which significantly reduced his impact. Potentially do some work this week with making our stoppage dominance count for a little more on the scoreboard.





HAWKS –It’ll be lost in the wash up, but the work of Ben McEvoy in defence in the first half underpinned the Hawks’ performance.

He finished the game with 12 intercepts, which was the best of any player on the park and I reckon those who were screaming for him to go into the ruck may have some short memories. The last time we played big Boy in the ruck, he got hammered. His future is either as a defender or as a forward with small stints in the middle, and as much as Clarkson will be criticised for not having him in the guts, I kind of feel he was right this time.

I’d like to throw James Cousins’ name out there as well, despite his complete disappearing act in the third quarter. he finished with 19 touches – 15 of them came in the first half.


BOMBERS – Andrew Phillips.

I thought Phillips staked a huge claim right here. His ruck work was solid. He gave some pretty elite service at times and his follow up work was awesome. He had six centre clearances of his own! Not even counting the ones he set-up. Consistently he was following up his ruckwork, winning a contested footy and feeding a handball out to the likes of Merrett and Shiel to break away from the stoppage.

Phillips is the only player I can remember who held his own against McEvoy and didn’t let him mark the footy all day. Considering how many intercepts the Hawks were enjoying, it was crucial for Phillips to be able to bring the footy to ground.




HAWKS –It was the third goal of the third quarter.

And it belonged to Joe Daniher. You could sense the Bombers were up and about and when Daniher marked, turned and kicked a goal round the corner. They’d just received goals from Hooker and Stringer, but it was the goal from Daniher that set them alight.

Yeah… it was good, and yeah I was even moderately, but I was also pretty pissed off as well.

At this stage you could see heads drop in the Hawthorn camp, and you could see how pumped the Bombers were for him.


BOMBERS – The absolute textbook play.

This is the play that Worfsold (or Rutten, who knows anymore) will show the team this week. Third quarter. Bombers on the charge but still down by 16 points. The Hawks go long down the wing. Zerk-Thatcher makes the contest against two Hawks. The Bombers then hold the ball in the vicinity with maximum pressure from Zerk-Thatcher, McGrath, Redman, and Langford. They force the Hawks to handball in close and not get a release. Numbers arrive. They force the turnover. They work the ball out by handball towards the corridor. Five handballs in a row. The break into space and hit Daniher on the lead 80metres out. He turns immediately and boots it long, putting the Hawks defence on the backfoot and under immense pressure. McDonald-Tipungwuti wins the one-on-one with a mark that would be the envy of most slips’ fielders would be jealous of when a ball goes over their head.

“Walla” kicks the goal and brings it within 10 points.




HAWKS –Just about everyone in the third quarter, really.

However, if we go back to the first half, it was the costly misses from players like Luke Breust, Tim O’Brien, Jack Gunston and James Worpel that let the Bombers off the hook. All were from gettable range, and with each miss you just felt that the Hawks were wasting too many opportunities.

In terms of the entire game, old mate Tim “Almost” O’Brien started okay and then fell into a hole somewhere out there, never to be seen again (hopefully), whilst you can’t help but feel for Jon Patton, who simply can’t his body anywhere near right.

Wingard started well, too. And then he hung around half forward, got a few touches but wasn’t anywhere near influential enough after half time. With half the midfield unable to get a touch, we really could have used his pace and tackling in the middle.



BOMBERS – Our defenders in the first half.

Yes, there wasn’t a great deal of pressure coming from the midfield, but you have to play tighter. You have to realise and adjust according to the state of the game. To put this in perspective, Hawthorn kicked four goals and six behinds in the second quarter. Not ideal. The hurting factor is they did it within their first 11 inside 50’s! That’s right, only once in the first 11 times the ball entered that critical space, did the Bombers manage to stop the Hawks from scoring. There is a real argument the Hawks should’ve put us away and only through their inaccuracy did we stay within a hope. Just a fool’s hope.

To be fair though, you be hard-pressed to find better turnarounds than what we saw from our defence in the second half. Time after time, the likes of Zerk-Thatcher, Ridley and Redman started at least halving every contest, if not winning it and releasing our runners off half-back.





HAWKS –A lot of people will say McGrath. I think differently.

Zach Merrett ran all day, and unlike the bloke at Hawthorn who can run all day, Merrett continually gets his hands on the footy.

32 uncontested touches. Is that a record for this season? I can’t think of anyone else being anywhere near that, and given he was in the guts for a fair whack of the afternoon, how was he allowed to roam around unattended for so long?

Anyway, I won’t whine too much – I have really liked what he’s been able to do on the wing for the Bombers in recent weeks. Last week, he moved back into the middle and was able to carry his form into this week.

Over the past two weeks, he has amassed 59 uncontested touches. that is simply outstanding. Add in nine score involvements and six inside fifties… I would have killed for someone picking up the footy like that for the Hawks.


BOMBERS – Ben McEvoy.

This guy is a ruckman, yeah? I don’t think I saw him lose a single contest in this game and stand tall and tower over his opponents in most. He bloody made Stringer look second rate when he danced around him like he thought he was Heath Shaw. He marked everything early and stood like the great wall of China, meanwhile our defence was looking more like that wall on the USA-Mexico border, just getting blown away.




HAWKS – Look, if it’s one thing Hawthorn supporters want to do, even in a terrible season, it’s beat Essendon and we looked on track to do that. The kids were playing well, the defence was on top and even the bit-part players looked threatening.

Then the wheels just didn’t fall off  – they rolled down the street, Essendon picked them up and can now use them as spares. We loved applying the pressure and hated it when it came back the other way. Whilst Essendon were struggling, we waltzed through the guts, used slick, accurate handballs and made them pay.

However, when the pressure came back our way, we double-grabbed, hacked the ball forward and played that slow, counter-productive style that has seen us fall apart way too often.

To be honest, I am not too disappointed, despite the horrendous second half. A nice draft pick will be coming our way soon enough and if we can get another kid with the talent of Will Day, things will be okay.

This rebuild will not be a quick one, though, and I expect some pretty severe off-season moves to be made, particularly if there are cuts to the list sizes. I reckon there were three or four players out there tonight that may not be wearing brown and gold again next year.

And to make matters worse, Jeff Kennett is running for president again – yep, the same bloke who insisted a president should only be there for two terms. Great…

Congrats Bombers… you arseholes. 🙂


BOMBERS – What a bloody rollercoaster. I’m lucky I live in a household with two TV’s as I was down to one after that second quarter. What a game that was. Keeps us in contention. How good is to have Joe Daniher back? The difference a big guy in form can make. What was that about how he wasn’t ready? He looked pretty ready by the second half.

Credit has to go to Saad as well, for his continued run and carry forcing the ball forward from the half back line. The Bombers looked good in that second half, now we just need to bottle it and bring it from the start, next week.

But first, let’s be real; there’s not much better than beating the Hawks. To do it such style in the second half is a real bonus, and to relegate them to a bottom-four position on the ladder is just too sweet. I’m going to watch the rest of the weekend with a nice glass of Red.

One week at a time guys. One week at a time.


Hey, you know we have memberships here at The Mongrel, right? We are small, we’re independent and we’ve knocked back cash from the gambling industry as I reckon I’d be a massive hypocrite if I complained about all the gambling ads on AFL coverage and then sold out to them. For 40-80c per day you get access to our wingman rankings, defensive rankings, weekly player rankings as well as members-only columns and early access to my Good, Bad and Ugly evening game reviews.

Plus you help us grow. Come on… click the image below and help an old mongrel out.

Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get more.