Essendon had a night to forget, going down to Geelong by 69 points after a goal-less 1st half. This is Essendon’s biggest loss of the year, coupled with the highest conceded score their typically solid defence had conceded in 2015. So how did this happen? Let’s delve into some of the numbers and analyse this game to see where Essendon went wrong.
First set of numbers to consider is the score itself. Essendon registered 7 goals 11 behinds to tally 53 points against Geelong’s 19 goals, 8 behinds and 122 points. What is clear is that Geelong was able to not only have 9 more scoring shots, but converted 70% of these into goals. Essendon was far less accurate, only converting 61%.
You can’t score goals without getting the ball into your forward 50. Geelong managed to do this 61 times to Essendon’s 52 entries. The gap here isn’t so conclusive, suggesting that the midfield despite appearing very scrappy was able to move the ball into the forward half. This resulted in 14 marks inside 50 to Geelong’s 13 which seems like a very good result for the red and black. Except when you consider that despite the additional mark and a discrepancy of only 9 inside 50’s for the game, the scoring shots and accuracy resulted in a 69 point loss. Essendon only converted 35% of its inside 50’s into a score, only 13% into goals. Geelong on the other hand was able to convert 44% into a score, and 31% into goals. This suggests what we already know; Geelong’s much more experienced forward line was far more efficient than Essendon’s very young forwards.
What the numbers do not capture however is the ordinary quality of entries that Essendon was feeding its forwards. Some of the 14 marks can be attributed to a short kick that was to just improve the angle or distance. Watching the game, it was clear that the midfield was forced to rush the ball into the forward line without a chosen target, often resulting in a contest. Confidence appeared to be a very large issue within the team, particularly in front of the sticks.
So we have now the areas that Essendon have struggled with this year: Contested possession and clearances. Good news for bomber fans is that tonight Essendon won these – clearances convincingly. Contested ball was 148 to 145, so really not a lot in it, but this is still a positive given the struggle the team has faced in this department lately. Clearances were the real positive, winning 46 to 28, backed up by a 41 to 32 win in clearances. This was despite ruckman Tom Bellchambers sitting out the second half in the red vest. Rucking the second half was done by Patrick Ambrose who makes up for his lack of height with a very strong body and Jake Carlisle who rucked and rested defender while Michael Hurley went forwards. Given the inexperience of the ruckmen in the 2nd half, convincingly winning the clearances is a positive for Essendon, showing they are making improvements.
However, it is concerning when these improvements are being overshadowed by a step backwards on the score-board.
Any thoughts? Please leave your comments below