Essendon opened its 2021 VFL season against Brisbane on Saturday, with nine senior-listed Bombers featuring in the 5.8 (37) to 15.13 (103) loss.

Check out VFL senior coach Leigh Tudor’s player review below.

The VFL Bombers will play their round two match against Collingwood at Victoria Park from 2pm on Saturday.

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VFL Rd 1 | Highlights

Watch Essendon's highlights from our round one VFL loss to the Lions.

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Nick Bryan

Stats: 27 disposals, 34 hitouts, five marks, three tackles

“Nick was one of our better players on the day. He competed really hard, so it was really good to see. He had 34 hitouts and four clearances him, so his follow-up work was really good. It was a good game for Nick.”

Nick Bryan wins one of his 33 hitouts. (Photo: Russell Freeman)

Tom Cutler

Stats: 29 disposals, 10 marks, one tackle

“Tom had a lot of the ball. He probably turned it over a little bit more than he would have liked, so that sort of let him down a little bit in what [was] a pretty tough day for the backline.” 

Ned Cahill

Stats: 14 disposals, five marks, four tackles

“Ned started slowly. He turned the ball over as a bit of a combination between decision-making and skill execution. At half-time we put Ned on to the ball and he actually changed the game. He was one of the reasons why we won the second half. Ned really stood up in the second half and got us going."

Andrew Phillips

Stats: 15 disposals, nine marks, two goals, 23 hitouts, two tackles

“Phillips was another player that played well for us on the day. He competed really hard, kicked a couple of goals, played ruck and forward and presented and was actually one of our better players, so it was a good effort from ‘Flip’.”

Andrew Phillips celebrates one of his two goals. (Photo: Deion Menzies)

Patrick Ambrose

Stats: 10 disposals, six marks

“Patty presented pretty well. He took six marks and he pretty much got through the full game. He did what he needed to do from the fitness point of view, so that was good.”

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

Stats: 22 disposals, 11 marks, two tackles

“He was one of our better players. He took 11 marks as a defender, so he was really pro-active in the way he played and he used the ball pretty well. He defended pretty well for us on the day under enormous pressure.” 

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher was a shining light in defeat. (Photo: Deion Menzies)

Josh Eyre

Stats: Eight disposals, three marks

“[It was a] tough game for Josh. He worked hard and got through the game, which was good. He got through fitness-wise which was really good, but he didn’t really get much of the ball.” 

Lachlan Johnson

Stats: 14 disposals, eight tackles, four marks

“Lachie was OK early. He probably didn’t take his opportunities as a forward but at half-time when we needed to mix things up a little bit, we put him into the midfield and he did a very good job. He had seven tackles, won a few clearances and competed really hard. A bit like Ned, his second half was pretty impressive as a midfielder.”

Tom Hird

Stats: 15 disposals, three marks

"'Hirdy' played back most of the game. [It was a] tough game for Hirdy, he didn’t get a lot of the ball. He turned it over a little bit, probably more than he would have liked. He played on some smart forwards so that was a game Hirdy will get a lot of learning from.”