Essendon's first ever loss to either expansion side, coming from the 32 point loss to Great Western Sydney on the weekend was a loss that could have easily been avoided. This is what the numbers show.
Essendon bolstered its midfield with the likes of Heath Hocking and it worked to great effect. With big man Jonathan Giles showing why he was poached from GWS, Essendon drew nearly level in the hitouts (31 to 30 GWS' way), won the clearances by 5 (29 to 34) and entered their forward 50 thirteen times more than the opposition.
Sounds great right? The problem was what happened to the ball after it entered their forward 50. Simply put, a scoring efficiency of only 36% (21 shots from 58 entries) when compared to GWS’ 51% (23 shots from 45 entries) tells the story in full. The further explain Essendon’s forward failings, they were only running at 38% shooting accuracy (8 goals from 21 shots) while GWS was at 61% (14 goals from 23 shots).
Breaking that down, the inside 50 efficiency when trying to goal is a woeful 14% while GWS was more than double at 31%.
All these numbers translate to a score line that while is only down on shot count by 2, costs Essendon the game by 32 points. A recurring theme with Essendon this year is just how costly their erratic and poor ball movement in the forward 50 is. Tellingly, marks inside 50 were 15 to GWS and 11 to Essendon, pointing out that part of the forward lines woes come from ordinary kicking going in, coupled with their own undoing in front of the sticks.
In other areas of the ground, as mentioned before, ruck/clearances were good and the pressure was reasonable. GWS did slightly win the tackle count, 64 to 59 but with Essendon having the mass of the disposal (329 to 384 with 104 contested to GWS vs 115 contested for Essendon) this is a good result.
The breakdown in the use of the disposals shows that Essendon played a possession style of football, out marking GWS 126 to 89 however contested marks drew level at 12 apiece. Ball movement was reasonably fast, with 60% of disposals coming from foot, higher than an Essendon of a few weeks ago. Comparatively GWS had the same disposal type ratio of 60% which is what helped make this game a more enjoyable and free-flowing affair than many this year.
So while this was a disappointing loss, clearly some positives to take out being the ball movement and clearance work but still many things for Essendon to rectify.
Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.