Essendon star Zach Merrett says there is no cause for concern after the Bombers fell 28 points short of Geelong in the JLT Community Series on Thursday.
The Dons couldn’t chase down the Cats after a six-goal second term helped Geelong to a healthy 27-point half-time buffer on their home turf, but Merrett isn’t worried.
While he admitted he was disappointed with the result, he was encouraged by the side’s effort to fight out the contest and said there was plenty to take out of the loss.
“That’s what JLT games are for, to learn as much as you can against opposition,” Merrett said post-match.
“I thought we played most of the game the way we wanted to play, but obviously you want to win as well.
“I didn’t really look at the scoreboard much throughout the night to be absolutely honest, it was more about playing the way we want to play and building towards round one.
“The scoreboard’s pretty irrelevant.”
The freedom of the pre-season competition allowed the Bombers to provide young Bombers Brayden Ham, Sam Draper and Dylan Clarke with some senior experience and Merrett was impressed by their efforts late in the game.
He also lauded the performance of promising utility Jordan Ridley who showed plenty of class for the second week running, gathering 18 disposals (at 83.3 per cent efficiency), five rebound-50s and a goal.
“Jordan Ridley off half-back was fantastic the way he was composed with the footy and hopefully he’s a player who is around for eight to ten years at the footy club,” he said.
Jordan Ridley put in another strong showing against Geelong on Thursday. (Image: Ben Johnstone)
Merrett took part in the majority of Thursday’s clash in an important step towards full fitness as he continues to patiently recover from a minor ankle injury.
Any doubt about his likelihood to line up against Greater Western Sydney in round one was put to rest by Merrett, who made every minute count against the Cats.
The on-baller racked up 24 disposals and six clearances in an impressive display and said his body is feeling healthy just over two weeks away from the home and away season.
“To play three quarters tonight was super,” he said.
“That’s why I think the JLT games are great to play and have in the schedule, just to get minutes into guys that have missed time in the pre-season.
“For me, I’m ready to go now for round one and I can’t wait.”
Merrett is an ambassador for the Powercor Country Festival, which was launched pre-game at GMHBA Stadium, and he encouraged all fans to support the annual event on May 5 against Geelong.
“It’s great to be a part of the festival…it’s a great way to recognise all of the country people and all of the time and work they put in.
“Footy is just a great asset and source to celebrate those people when we play Geelong at the ‘G in a few months time.
“It’s a great festival that everyone should get behind.”