A genuine competitive beast, key defender Patrick Ambrose’s career-best 20 games in 2019 gave him the opportunity to show his very best.
Coming off the back of just seven games in 2018 and 17 in the last two years combined, this season loomed as a particularly important one for Ambrose as he looked to stay healthy and lock in a spot in the senior side.
He had no trouble doing that, quickly securing his position in the side and proving to be one of the most reliable Bombers this year.
The courageous backman was extremely consistent, showing his trademark power and aggression throughout a year that saw him become the league’s best one-on-one defender.
His 13.7 per cent loss rate from 51 contested defence one on one contests was clearly the best of those with 50 or more contests throughout the season, and the best rate of those ranked in the top 99 players for one on one contests.
Ambrose also showed his developing versatility in 2019, playing key roles in the forward line and thriving as a negating onballer when the team needed him.
Ambrose— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) July 20, 2019
Average disposals: 10.2
Average disposal efficiency: 78.4%
Average one percenters: 5.6
Average intercept possessions: 5
Essendon’s heavy loss to Port Adelaide in round 20 was a tough one to take, but Ambrose certainly tried his hardest to trim the margin.
He held powerful key forward Charlie Dixon goalless (the only player to do so this year) and kept him to just five disposals, while claiming 10 disposals (at 100 per cent efficiency), six one percenters, five spoils, five one-on-one victories and three contested marks himself in a very impressive defensive display.
Ambrose isn’t a particularly flashy player and while he kicked a nice goal this year, it wouldn’t be right to pick a moment that doesn’t typify his tough and courageous playing style.
It was late in the second term in the opening game of the season against Greater Western Sydney and young Giant Harry Perryman found himself heading towards a bobbling Sherrin with Ambrose steaming in from the opposite direction.
To his credit, Perryman didn’t back down, but Ambrose attacked the contest with some serious venom and landed a bone-crunching hip and shoulder that saw the Giant sustain a punctured lung. It was a brutal, but fair bump felt all the way here in Melbourne.
Ambrose put everything into this contest with Perryman. (Image: AFL Photos)
Despite having recently turned 28 years old, it is hard to see Ambrose slowing down next year following on from what was a career-best season.
As strong as he is in defence, it wouldn’t shock if he was also utilised a little more on the ball where his elite aerobic capacity and good size gives him an edge through the middle.