Essendon kept their finals hopes alive last weekend as Carlton slipped closer to the wooden spoon. The Bombers clinched victory by just 8 points over the Blues in a thriller that came down to the wire, with the Bombers kicking the last three goals of the match to steal the win. The Bombers were not helped throughout the game by their inaccuracy in front of goal, kicking 18 minors and 11 goals from their 53 inside 50s. Although Carlton had just two less inside 50s they managed only 23 shots on goal compared to Essendon’s 33.
Essendon came out of the blocks flying, booting five of the first six opening goals to break out to an early 28 point lead. This was quickly matched by Carlton however as they kicked the next six goals and the Bombers’ inaccuracy really started to catch up with them. Cale Hooker’s goal at the 20-minute mark of the first quarter was Essendon’s only goal until the 17th minute mark of the third quarter. During that period, not only did Carlton kick their six goals, Essendon assisted them by missing a whopping 11 shots on goal.
Essendon coach John Worsfold said his team really dropped off in the second quarter and played Carlton’s “slow game”. “It gave [Carlton] time to get back inside our forward line which meant a lot of our shots were either really pressured or from wide,” he said.
Worsfold described his teams second quarter lapse as a drop in “intensity.”
“We gave them a sniff that the game was on their terms, we weren’t kicking well for goal. We were really undisciplined three times which we nearly paid the ultimate price for.”
Worsfold’s team certainly had some undisciplined acts, particularly 2016 best and fairest Zach Merrett who accepted a one match ban as a result of his gut-punch on Lachie Plowman.
Worsfold answers the question that everyone has been thinking this year as we continue to watch players step over the line by saying, “you just wonder why it happens. What are they thinking?”.
This means the Essendon star will not line up against Adelaide Crows in a massive game this Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
Although there were a few undisciplined acts throughout Essendon’s four quarters, coach Worsfold was pleased with their ability to keep themselves in the game.
“I thought the boys responded really cleverly, to … create those late scoring opportunities to win the game, that was really pleasing,” Worsfold said.
Carlton opened the final quarter strongly kicking two of the first three goals and it was at this point that Essendon fans could see their hopes of finals spiralling down the drain. However Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti did what he does best and combined with Cale Hooker to kick the final three goals of the match and take home the crucial four points for the Bombers.
Essendon have now climbed into the top eight again and sit in 8th position with 10 wins. They sit above West Coast, Melbourne and St Kilda who are all on 10 wins and are trailing the eight only on percentage. The Bombers play Adelaide next round at Etihad Stadium and with three teams chomping at their feet to take their place in the eight, this is a must-win.