The cold autumn Melbourne weather was kept at bay under the roof of Marvel Stadium as the GWS Giants and Essendon both looked to continue building their season.
The Bombers had a great start to their season before being humbled by the resurgent Saints last weekend. The Giants had a stirring win over the Crows in week one (which looks better every week) followed by a loss to the Eagles (which looks worse every week) before a controversial loss to Carlton.
The Bombers swung the late change before the match and moved former captain Dyson Heppell to the substitute position and brought in Andrew Phillips as a second ruck.
The Giants hopped out to a quick lead and the Bombers’ inaccuracy cost them a quarter-time lead.
The second quarter was then nothing to write home about as the Giants suffered their own accuracy woes, but still managed to increase their lead at the half.
The Bombers made their move late in the third quarter with a goal to Sam Draper and a huge running goal to Mason Redman to give them the lead at the final break.
The Bombers then stole the show as they kicked out to a 25-point lead in the last quarter that Giants could not peg back.
But enough Preamble, let’s get into the stuff that mattered.
The Great Stuff
This game was decided on the back of one man’s performance, Jake Stringer. The man known by some as “The Package” delivered in a big way for the Bombers and pushed his team passed a valiant Giants team that fought all the way to the end.
There was no surprises pre-match as commentators speculated about Stringer’s performance. From his limited pre-season, to whether Brad Scott would shift him into the midfield for longer stints following a quiet return the previous week.
Stringer wasn’t needed much in the midfield, the bombers were doing well enough in there without him, what they needed was someone to win them this game up forward, and that is what he delivered.
A scoreline of four goals and six behinds from 15 disposals says it all really. Stringer was close to ripping this game away from the Giants on multiple occasions before he finally did just that early in the last quarter. Courtesy of 60 metre torpedo punt that spun like house in tornado above Kansas.
This is the sort of game that the Bombers need from Stringer if they’re going to take a step towards playing finals footy again.
The Engine That Could
Both of these teams have decent midfields. The Giants boast Tom Green, Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio while the Bombers have Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel.
Both units had their moments in this game. But it was going to come down to whichever engine room could outlast the other and deliver more substantial blows.
The Giants had a good purple patch late in the third quarter on the back of some special football from Josh Kelly, but the Bombers ultimately held sway with an outstanding and even performance form their three midfield stars.
Height is Right
The move to bring Phillips in late was an inspired decision by Brad Scott. The tandem of Draper and Phillips delivered an almost perfect match, albeit for some pretty woeful goal-kicking. The decision also paid off with the unfortunate injury of Weideman meant the Bombers weren’t lacking for height when he was subbed off.
Is it a bird, is it a plane?
No, It’s Mason Redman. The highest flying, hardest running, longest goal-kicking halfback you ever did see. That’s why he’s now starred against teams like Hawthorn, Gold Coast and GWS, and by god its put them on the map (shows map with only those places highlighted). Based on the first four weeks of the season, Redman has to be accepted as an elite player across the half-back line.
The Good Stuff
Deserved a mention for trying to lift his team late in the third quarter. Like a secondary villain in an action movie, he played his role to keep the plot moving, but ultimately probably needed more support to get the job done.
Tom Green is meant to be 22 but to paraphrase Martin Lawrence from Bad Boys 2 “Shit man, you at least 30”. But seriously, Green continued his form of finding plenty of the football, but seemed to have a down week in the face of the onslaught that was the Bombers midfielders. He was not disgraced by any means, but I don’t believe he’ll be featuring in this match on Brownlow night, unless you have a tip from an umpire you can recommend to me.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
This Essendon team really wanted their fans to appreciate this win. A final scoreline of 11 goals and 22 behinds! At one point it was three goals and 13 behinds. And they weren’t difficult shots. Both rucks, and a number of players, but especially Jye Caldwell will need some goalkicking practice this week.
If You Don’t Mind, Umpire
A number of areas to be addressed in this section. Firstly, there was very few free kicks in this game. I believe the count stood at five-seven around three-quarter-time. Considering that the average game has approximately 37, that is an exceptionally low number. As a neutral, I did not really notice it until the figures came up. You also have to consider that “Razor” Ray Chamberlain was umpiring this game.
Another thing is that the umpires seem to have forgotten how to pay a mark. Numerous times in this game a player juggled a ball in a contest and eventually took control and came down with the mark. Only or it to not be paid. Someone needs to remind the umpires that it doesn’t matter if someone else got a fingernail on the football. If the player has had the majority of the ball and controlled it to the ground, then the mark is theirs.
The Other Stuff:
Good to see young Davey push through some adversity and come back on and have some important moments for the Bombers. Real character-building stuff there. Probably could’ve grabbed that last one in the square, but it just showed his team-first attitude.
Speaking of pushing through, Nick Haynes did that in a big way after his heavy collision with Sam Weideman in the second quarter.
Great to see new coach Adam Kingsley put it on his players at three-quarter time with a spirited display at their huddle. He did not get the result, but it’s simply good to see a coach get animated.
Jye Menzies, who is this guy? He was in everything for the Bombers! Another mid-season recruit that looks right at home at AFL level. How can there be any doubters left for that draft with so many success stories already?
Harry Himmelberg was ruthlessly efficient in this game. Five disposals for three goals and one goal assist.
The Bombers are now 3-1. They will finish round four inside the top four of the ladder. They will take this confidence into their Gather Round fixture against the almighty Demons, who are looking like the best team in the competition. Brad Scott will be looking forward to seeing how his new Bombers team stacks up. They have exceeded expectations so far, why couldn’t they again.
The Giants now slip to 1-3 and are teetering on slipping into the bottom four. They will face Hawthorn in the Gather Round and who knows how that one will play out.