A starring performance from young forward Michael Hurley saw Essendon storm home to a 24-point win over Fremantle. The final scoreboard did not reflect a tight, hard-fought contest, however Essendon’s superiority running out the final term saw them halt any forward momentum Fremantle had in the final term.
Hurley’s six goals were not the only critical factor. Bombers captain Jobe Watson’s inside work, accumulating 26 disposals but a team-high 7 clearances was crucial to the Dons’ final term. David Myers was impressive off half-back, using his 28 touches to both rebound from the defensive 50 as well as provide forward 50 entries.
However, it was the dual-forward setup of Hurley and Stuart Crameri that was critical to Essendon on the night. Hurley was left unshackled by Luke McPharlin early and kicked three in the first term, which gave him the confidence to press on. The threat of Hurley, however, was forcibly offset by the one-on-one presence of Crameri, who kicked two on Michael Johnson but was forcibly kept quiet in order to prevent his own threat. As such, the Dockers didn’t have the manpower to double-team Hurley without damaging their own forward setup, hurting them defensively.
For three quarters, though, it didn’t matter, as the Dockers dominated out of the middle. Nick Lower, Michael Barlow and Matt de Boer all racked up the touches and dominated the clearances, despite Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke being smashed in the ruck. Ultimately, the Fremantle midfielders set up to rove the tapwork of the dominant Paddy Ryder and David Hille as well as their own rucks, such was their disadvantage, and it proved effective until the final term.
Indeed, if you tuned into the final term having checked the scores at three-quarter time you would have wondered if you were on the wrong channel, such was Essendon’s dominance in the final term. The entire run of play ran with the Dons; Essendon had 16 more inside 50s and Fremantle’s pressure completely evaporated. The Dons ran harder, tackled hard and simply finished the game much better than the Dockers, whose fitness seemed to implode in the final term.
Next weekend, Essendon face the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium while Fremantle take on Collingwood at the MCG.
Essendon: Hurley, Watson, Ryder, Myers, Heppell, Hille
Fremantle: De Boer, Mayne, Barlow, Lower, Pavlich
Essendon: Hurley 6, Crameri Monfries Del’Olio 2, Watson Heppell Hille Melksham Ryder
Fremantle: Mayne 4, Pavlich 3, Clarke Broughton 2, Barlow de Boer Griffin
34,567 at Paterson’s Stadium