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VFL Rd 3 match report

Callum O'Connor  April 22, 2018 11:09 AM

Jayden Laverde making something out of nothing with the full stretch mark at centre half back.

Jayden Laverde making something out of nothing with the full stretch mark at centre half back.

Essendon was overcome by a strong Collingwood outfit by 28 points in Round 3 at Victoria Park.

The Bombers got off to a fast start but had the brakes clamped as the Magpies’ frenetic pressure prevented the fast rebound and piercing forward entry that Dan Jordan’s side showcases at its best. After claiming the lead by half time, Collingwood piled on 10 goals to six to prevail on the strength of their forward options, 16.10.106 to 12.6.78.

With the first three goals of the match on the board and the ball coming fast, low and accurately Inside 50, it looked like the Bombers were in for a bumper day. However, the Pies changed the course of the match by getting to the ball first and starving Essendon of possession. A five-goal-to-one third quarter saw the Bombers fall 26 points behind at the last change. Although goals to Kyle Langford and Alex Boyse inside the first two minutes of the fourth quarter gave Essendon a sniff, Collingwood nipped the resurgence in the bud.

The loss of key forwards Shaun McKernan and Jackson Merrett meant the Bombers had to work overtime in front of the big sticks. VFL leading goal-kicker Danny Younan (four goals) and Alex Boyse (two goals) nonetheless found a way to make a scoreboard impact while Dylan Clarke and Kyle Langford (32 touches each) once again generated a tremendous impact around the stoppages.

The wholesale changes made ahead of the ANZAC Day AFL clash gave three players the chance to make their VFL debuts for Essendon with Trent Crosbie, Jake McQueen and Ben Fennell all donning the red and black for the first time. Crosbie (25 touches) and McQueen (a goal) made an immediate impact while Fennell worked hard rotating through the midfield in his first match back from an ACL reconstruction.

Throw in Kieran Strachan and Aaron Francis also pulling on the boots for the first time in 2018, and Jordan says he could not fault the endeavour of his relatively inexperienced side.

“They all played their role really well. Trent came in through the midfield, Benny really cracked in at the contest and got in there, which is his game. McQueen gave us a bit of pace and a bit of dash which is what we wanted from him.

“We did a lot right, just lacked a little bit of polish,” said the coach. “They used the ball a bit better in the second half. Our endeavour and our intent were pretty good all day particularly around the contest when we had the upper hand.

“We were well up in clearances and contested ball but we also knew that on the outside we had to get it and use it reasonably well and that’s certainly an area where they did well.”

Essendon now faces a bye in Round 4 with one win from its first three matches. However, Jordan says his players are developing well.

“We’re 1-2 which is a disappointing aspect of it but the pleasing thing for me is the form our guys are in.

“We’ve seen Guelfi debut, Laverde, Mutch, Leuenberger, Draper are playing well. That’s the aim of our development program; we’re getting these guys ready to play AFL. Heppell and Hind have been consistent so that aspect of it’s coming together well. We’ve been in every game we’ve played against quality sides… I think they’ll only be better coming forward.”