Kyle Langford in action against the Dockers on Sunday. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Essendon utility Kyle Langford says the Bombers’ gritty seven-point win over Fremantle was a sign of their growing maturity under first-year senior coach Ben Rutten.

The Bombers finally found themselves on the right side of the ledger of a tight contest at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, having lost three games by under a goal this season.

Langford said Rutten was proud of the way his charges implemented a change to their game style after the lessons learned from narrow defeats, despite being below their best.  

“I still don’t think we played our best footy. We haven’t played a four-quarter game since our St Kilda game, but each week we’re improving our system and the way we want to play,” Langford told RSN Breakfast on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a number of close games. We did more of a kick-mark thing (in the dying stages). In the past we’ve gone a bit fast and haven’t tried to isolate the game too much, which has led to turnovers and goals against us. We took the pace off it, took some time off the clock, and I think a lot of the players had more awareness when they had the ball.

“He (Rutten) was really happy with the maturity we showed as a group to close out a game and not cough it up. He’s happy with that growth instead of losing another game by under a goal.”


Despite a 3-6 start, the youthful Bombers have won admirers for their consistent effort and intent this season, heading into last weekend ranked first in the competition for tackles and third in the pressure factor.

Langford said the players were invested in Rutten’s values, and felt a strong obligation to do the sash proud after a body of work spent re-connecting with the club’s rich past.

“We want to create a DNA where we’re known as a disciplined, hard-working team. We’ve done a lot of work on that throughout the whole of pre-season, as well as working on the game-plan that ‘Truck’ (Rutten) took over from ‘Woosha’ (John Worsfold) last year. He’s probably grounding us more and bringing the culture a lot tighter,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff with past players. We have an opportunity to talk to them, get their experience of the club and what it meant to them.

“I’ve done a little bit with Jobe (Watson) over the past couple of years and a bit with ‘Hirdy’ (James Hird), which kind of came out a couple of years ago, but Truck’s opening it up all players.

“He’s (Rutten) creating opportunities where players can just mix and mingle. We’ve got Simon Madden coming down all the time, the Danihers come down. It gives an opportunity for players to get out of their comfort zone, talk to past players and really create a connection and relationship with them. It makes me want to be an Essendon person and Essendon player.

“Obviously with the rich history and 16 premierships, there are a lot of past players who speak very highly of the club. We try to get whatever we can out of them to give us that little bit more authority when we put on the jumper.”