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Rd 1: VFL Match Report

BTV: VFL RD 1 | Paul Corrigan interview We caught up with the Essendon VFL Coach after the game at Sandringham.

Essendon has opened its VFL season with a seven point loss to Sandringham at Trevor Barker Oval on Saturday.

The Bombers made a slow start kicking just one goal in the first half and trailed by 34 points at half time.

But the Dons kicked nine goals to five in the second half to draw within striking distance in the last term.

Sandringham steadied late in the match to hold on for win.

Heath Hocking, Nick O’Brien and Ben McNiece were the standouts for Essendon, raking in 77 disposals between them.

Aaron Francis was another solid contributor finishing with seven tackles, six marks and a goal.

McNiece was polished in defence, finishing with nine marks and 23 disposals.

“Benny McNiece was probably our best today,” Essendon Coach Paul Corrigan said.

“He was really controlled down back, he generated some really good ball movement for us when we needed it.

“I thought Aaron Francis was good, he played forward the first half and then went into the middle in the second half.

“Heath Hocking also did a lot of work inside for us, and was really strong around the contest.”

Nick O’Brien led Essendon out for the first time. He finished with 25 disposals.

“He played outside on the wing and also inside in the second half, he was very valuable,” Corrigan said.

It took until the finals seconds of the first quarter for the Bombers to open their account when Dons debutant Daniel Younan ran into the open goal after good lead-up play that included a one handed mark to Francis.

Sandringham owned the territory after quarter time, taking a 34 point lead into the major break.

Corrigan said the Zebras were ruthless on the Bombers mistakes.

“Sandy came really hard out of the contest. I thought they were really ferocious with their pressure on the ball in the first half,” he said.

“We probably didn’t adapt according to that, I thought we fumbled the ball a little and just weren’t clean around the contest.

“It was probably due to their pressure and I think there was sometimes a perceived pressure that caused a few of our mistakes and turnovers which they capitalised on.”

The Dons second goal of the game came nine minutes into the third term when Shaun McKernan marked strongly and converted.

Most of the third quarter was spent in Essendon’s attacking half but for all its territorial dominance, it struggled to make inroads on the scoreboard.

The Bombers booted five goals for the term to the Zebras three, leaving the margin at the final change 23 points.

Corrigan stayed composed in the three quarter time huddle, encouraging the team to play their game.

“We now how we want to play, we want to be exciting and want to be able to score quickly,” he said.

“It was more about just encouraging them to be free with their ball movement and making sure that we are still strong in the contest, winning it there.

“Then when we get the opportunity try and move the ball fast and get it into our forward. If we are able to do that then we give our forwards a chance one on one.”

The address helped, as Essendon came out firing in the final term.

The Bombers kicked three of the first four goals in the last quarter to cut the margin to ten points.

Sandringham found the steadying goal at the 27 minutes mark and eventually ran out seven point winners.

Essendon headed straight to the beach after the game to begin recovery in preparation for round two.

Corrigan will place major focus this week on cleaning up the side’s skills.

“I think it’s just back to the basic fundamentals, making sure that we are clean with particular things like ground balls, making sure we hit handballs and are effective with our kicking,” he said.

“These games are going to be more pressure than what practice matches are so the heat is going to come a little bit quicker.

“It’s about our ability to be able to dispose of the ball and be able to take the bumps now and then and still get the ball to our teammates.”

Essendon play Collingwood next Sunday at Windy Hill from 1pm.

Sandringham 3.4.22     6.8.44     9.10.64     11.12.78

Essendon       1.3.9      1.4.10      6.5.41       10.11.71

Goals: Merrett 2, McKernan 2, Francis, Begley, Stewart, Younan, Peters, Hind