Essendon star Dylan Shiel says the job isn’t over despite locking in a finals berth with an impressive 34-point victory over Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
With the season on the line in front of a boisterous local crowd celebrating the approaching retirement of Dockers Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne, alongside the 150th game of Michael Walters, there was no lack of pressure on the Bombers.
While Shiel admitted to taking plenty of joy out of the backs-against-the-wall win, he said it is important not to feel completely satisfied.
“It’s a good win, obviously it’s a bit of a challenge flying over to Perth and getting the job done here in front of a hostile crowd,” Shiel said after the victory.
“I’m rapt with the result tonight and there’s a bit of satisfaction there, but I learnt at a young age to never be satisfied and we’ll get ready for next week.
“We’ve secured a finals spot, which is fantastic for the club, but the job’s not done yet.”
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The tough win was a massive response to an ordinary fortnight that saw the side suffer consecutive victories to Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs by 59 and 104 points respectively.
The Bombers were well held in a number of key statistical areas on Saturday including disposals (431 to 360) contested possessions (177 to 123), clearances (43 to 29), inside 50s (59 to 48) and hitouts (58 to 17).
But sensational efficiency inside 50, an improved defensive output and a hunger to hunt the opposition (the Dons laid 71 tackles) saw them prove far too strong for the Dockers.
Essendon was back to its damaging best, cutting up Freo on the counterattack to make the hosts pay for their mistakes and Shiel was pleased with the way the club broke out of its form slump.
“After a game like that (last week), you never know (if you can bounce back) - it was a pretty bad loss in the club’s history,” he said.
“I was really impressed with the club and the playing group, we were able to keep pretty consistent with our review and our standards through the week and we prepared for tonight’s game like any other game.”
Shiel continued his sensational debut season in the red and black at Optus Stadium, gathering 27 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 518 metres gained, seven inside 50s, seven score involvements, six tackles, five clearances and a goal.
He said it was nice to step up and play his part in the extremely important win, particularly in front of goal.
“It’s always nice to hit the scoreboard.
“We’ve got a lot of personnel down in terms of our best 22 and a lot of scoring power down, so everyone’s got to take up a bit of slack and try and do their job.”
S H I E L pic.twitter.com/zVGSmWedx2— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) August 17, 2019
The 26-year-old was full of praise for debutant Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, who impressed a late inclusion for sore defender Cale Hooker.
The second-year Bomber was composed with 11 disposals, six marks, four rebound 50s and seven one percenters, drawing exciting an exciting comparison from his teammate.
“He’s got a bit of Dustin Fletcher about him, doesn’t he? He’s very rangy and seems to have those ‘go go gadget arms’ getting the fist in,” Shiel said.
“I’m super happy for him and his family, it’s a big moment playing your first game.
“Gee I wish I could have played like that in my first game, it was pretty impressive.”
Essendon will now return to Melbourne for a huge clash with Collingwood at the MCG on Friday in a game that could shape the finals.
“(Playing) the arch rivals at the MCG, the home of footy. It’s going to play a part in how we finish in the finals, so I’m going to be excited for it.”