Essendon v GWS - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Bombers visited Spotless Stadium, and got the win over the Giants who were bringing some stars back into the side.

Essendon continued their resurgence, with back to back wins, and a rare win on the road. For the Giants… things are looking pretty bleak.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Dyson Heppell

I’ll be a little more subdued about Heppell than the commentators were tonight. Seriously, they sounded like they wanted him to father their children. He was very good, notching 28 touches and 14 contested touches.

It was his clearance work that was the stand out for me. He had an equal game-high 12 for the game (Coniglio) and powered the Bombers as they put the foot on the throat of the Giants.

You’ll sometimes hear Heppell’s name mentioned when pundits talk about the worst captains in the league, but I defy those people to pick holes in the way he played today. They’d be fighting a losing battle.

Callan Ward

I’ll get into the great disappearing superstars a bit later, but Ward is one who didn’t go missing. He consistently put his head over the ball, and when it was his time to go, he went – every time.

Ward finished with 34 touches, 20 of which were contested. The thing I loved about his game in particular, was his ability to take a tackle and still be strong enough to release the ball effectively. At times tonight, he took two tackles and was able to successfully release the ball. We might hear a lot about the young stars in the GWS side, but he’s the heart and soul of that club.

If only a few others followed his lead.

Devon Smith’s homecoming tackle-fest

Yes, I know, it sounds a bit like a low-grade porn movie, but… hang on, I’m just jotting down that title to copyright it later on. Righto, let’s start again. Devon Smith worked his backside off tonight, and laid 13 tackles to lead all players yet again.

I loved the way he attacked the ball, and he became more of the agitator than the agitated amongst his former teammates as the game went on. He remains the number one pressure player in the game, and those 13 tackles won’t see him knocked from that perch just yet.

Of the three big recruits, he remains the standout thus far.

The Heath Shaw steal

Shaw had a pretty good evening, despite his penchant for getting that backwards or side-wards kick. He still strikes me as one of the few blokes in the GWS side that genuinely cares about the performance of the team. When things don’t work out, he takes it personally. You’d either love him as a teammate, or kill him.

Whilst he finished with an equal game-high 34 touches, it was his steal in the second quarter was brilliant, and believe me, it pains me to use the word brilliant in association with Heath Shaw.

Zach Merrett tried to offload the ball to Conor McKenna, but from the blind-side, Shaw came streaming through to steal it. The ignorant idiot I was watching the game with… who also happens to be my friend, said it was like Michael Jordan. He obviously knows less about basketball than football. It was much more like Gary Payton.

Better from Goddard

Maybe that game will shut Garry Lyon up?

Goddard was questioned about his lack of tackling a couple of weeks ago, so it was pleasing to see him lay a couple of excellent tackles this week, and it was also good to see him rewarded for them with holding the ball decisions.

Goddard has been separated from his running mate, Michael Hurley for the last two weeks – it’s amazing what happens when you only have the one guy playing the floating role in the backline. What will be interesting is to see how the backline functions when Hurley returns to the team. His absence has coincided with two wins.

Personally, I’d throw him in at Centre Half Forward until Daniher returns, then try him back again.

The Potential

Essendon supporters actually have a legitimate reason to start thinking they can make finals. Players like Matt Guelfi and Kyle Langford are showing more every week. Three weeks ago, all seemed lost, but here we are and the tunnel you were in doesn't seem so long and dark.

Can you win the flag? Probably not, but there'll be times this season where you get out and run and scare the living hell out of teams who will contend. Let's hope it starts next Saturday night in front of 90,000 at the MCG.

 

THE BAD

Adam Tomlinson’s stupid 50 metre penalty

It’s important to paint the picture here.

It’s the last quarter. The Giants are only four points down. They’re coming – they have the momentum, and in one fell swoop, Adam Tomlinson took that momentum and flushed it down the toilet.

James Stewart marked around 30 metres out on the boundary. It was a ripping kick from Tom Bellchambers, who’d hardly touched it outside ruck contests all game.

 It was going to be a tough shot for goal – a fifty percent chance at best. But Stewart didn’t have to have a shot from there, because inexplicably, Adam Tomlinson put two hands into his back after he took the mark and shoved him to the ground. The umpire then took the kick for goal to the goal line and Stewart popped it through thanks to Tomlinson’s brain-fart.

The Bombers kicked the next three goals to put the game on ice. Essendon may have barged through the door to claim the win, but Tomlinson unlocked it for them. It was a boneheaded move.

 

THE UGLY

… the tough got going, and others didn’t go at all.

So here’s some damning stats for the GWS Giants.

Your future, and your present rests with your stars. Kelly, Coniglio, Shiel, Patton and Cameron. We’ll give a pass to Kelly, as he was coming back from injury, however, let’s have a look at the other two mids.

Stephen Coniglio was sitting on 29 disposals at three quarter time. He was right up there as one of the best on ground, and had kicked the best goal of the game tucked in on the boundary, 45 metres out. He finished with 32 touches – three disposals in the last quarter when the Giants needed him to step it up. Not good enough.

Next up – Dylan Shiel. He was pretty subdued most of the game and he had 17 touches at three quarter time. Will you look at that – he finished with 17 disposals. He did not get a touch in the last quarter. Not a single touch.

When you add that Kelly only had three touches, your young ‘superstars’ combined for six touches in the last quarter. Sorry Giants fans, that’s pathetic, and if you are going to hitch your wagon to these guys, you might want to start cracking the whip. That sort of performance won’t be taking you anywhere quick.

 

OTHER BITS

Nice of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to show up for the last quarter. He would’ve had plenty left in the tank after four touches in the first three quarters. His pressure was pretty good, but for the most part this season, he’s been a passenger.

We had Mark Baguley in our good section last week, so I kind of feel we’re ahead of the game here. Once again, he brought a defender’s mentality to the forward role, and the results were evident.

Josh Kelly’s last quarter fade out was mentioned above, but coming back from injury, you’d expect that. He was pretty clean up til then, and was impressive overall in his return to action. His kick for Ryan Griffen to run onto was perfect in the first quarter.

Loved McKenna’s chase on Langdon. It was about that point when you realised the Bombers were happy to do the hard stuff – not just the highlight plays.

Good to see Dylan Buckley get his first goal as a Giant. Not so sure about that little headbutt he threw at Guelfi. Then again, he might have company in the stands next week if Devon Smith is cited for his hit on Zac Langdon. Looked borderline to me.

I know the commentators talked it up a bit, but Bellchambers’ ruck work was great. Some of his taps to Heppell were right down his throat.

Fantasia is so good to watch, but that high hit… could’ve been real bad. I’m glad it wasn’t, but if we’re going to be serious about hits to the head, you have to look at the act – not the result. But the AFL only acts if someone gets hurt… or if you tackle, so he should be right.

Oh, Stringer’s strength to stand in the tackle and hand to Fantasia to bang through that goal was excellent.

Just after Goddard converts on the run (Goal assit to Zach Merrett), the ball goes to the other end and Jonathon Patton marks at 40… and misses. Not sure you can have the nickname ‘the General’ when your performances are nowhere near commanding. He was OK today, but went missing late too. I suppose, on the whole, he did a few little things here and there; smothers and spoils. But the Giants need big things.

Stringer had a bit of a purple patch in the second but couldn’t convert. First he missed from 50, then collected a ball from a spillage for a snap but missed, and then he marked strongly and goaled around the corner. That was all in the space of a few minutes. Now and then, he reminds you what he’s capable of.

This blocking rule is so subjective. So much so that when it is paid, anyone in the crowd can automatically think of at least one more time in the same game it was let go. Hooker blocked really well for Goddard to mark, preventing Lobb from contesting… no call. That’s all well and good, as long as you are consistent.

But it’s not consistent. James Stewart was awarded a free kick in front of goal as Tomlinson blocked him to enable Shaw to attempt to mark.

I love how Heath Shaw can tug on an opponent’s jumper to slow him down, and it is painfully evident, and then receive a free kick for holding seconds later…

Jeremy Cameron’s miss from 30 metres out in the third quarter was so costly. They’re the sort of misses that make midfielders drop their heads and wonder why they’re working so hard to get the ball to him.

Has Jake Stringer ever given away a free kick and not thought he was hard done by? Arms out… pained expression… the question “For what?” being asked. That’s basically Jake after any decision that goes against him.

Good to see that Adam Saad has not had his run curbed at all. I love seeing him tuck the ball under his arm and go!

Nick Haynes is one of the most underrated defenders in the game.

Fantasia’s centre break and subsequent miss was scintillating. I was barracking for that goal to go through.

Great to see McDonald-Tipungwuti’s tackle on Whitfield result in a goal, with Merrett handing to Zaharakis for the finish. Speaking of Zaharakis, he just knocks up getting the ball. I know he gets to be the middle link in a chain at times, but I really enjoy seeing him with a bit of space. Pity he didn’t use it well tonight. Missed too many targets.

Good to see Matt Guelfi get a little time in the middle. Once the game was done, Worsfold gave him a little exposure in there. Good experience, and good coaching. Speaking of Guelfi… does he wear eyeshadow? He looks so dark and mysterious…

A couple of junk time goals to Stringer were nice, but the tackle of Baguley on Whitfield to jar the ball free in one of them was a cracker.

And just like that, life is breathed into the Essendon season, yet Greater Western Sydney are catching their breath and wondering what the hell has happened. How big is Dreamtime at the ‘G going to be next week?

 

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