Reaching out: Essendon skipper Jobe Watson leads Bulldog Matthew Boyd to the ball last night.ESSENDON last night inflicted an 84-point loss on the Western Bulldogs, who will not allow the result to prompt any internal panic or deviation from their long-term plan but will replace players who do not offer the required effort, according to coach Brendan McCartney.
Having lost Daniel Giansiracusa to a foot injury before the game, the Dogs were forced to sub Bob Murphy out of the match at half-time after he strained a hamstring, with Ryan Griffen seeking treatment for a knock to the calf during the final quarter.
Michael Hurley kicked five goals for Essendon for the second consecutive week, while Jobe Watson scored three in another match-shaping, 30-possession game. Stewart Crameri was subbed out before three-quarter-time due to a sore calf.
Hurley, who wore an AFL-approved wrist guard after being trod on against Fremantle last week, also ran a pair of scissors off the ground early in the last quarter after they were left by the Bombers’ medical staff at the break.
The Bulldogs’ loss followed heavy losses to St Kilda (63 points), Sydney (92) and the Brisbane Lions (58), with McCartney stressing that his young side was a work in progress and that it had shown considerably more effort after the first quarter, but saying players who didn’t provide that effort faced being axed from the team.
”There might be some external panic with this, but there’s none internally,” he said.
”We’re filthy with how we’re playing, though, we’re really disappointed with what we’re dishing up.
”It’s a tough business and resilient people find their way through. We’re teaching the right way to play the game – we’re teaching the contest, we’re teaching people to think about defending a little bit earlier, to make it hard for the opposition to do what they want.
”We’re also coaching people to be smarter with the ball. At the moment you’d be watching us thinking, that’s not what we’re seeing, so we’ve got to chip [away] at it, keep at it on the training track, keep educating people, demanding standards, demanding effort and rewarding people who give us that and put people out of the team, perhaps, who don’t.
”We’re going to keep working with our boys and coaching them and building belief, respect their self-esteem and their dignity, because that’s what you have to maintain in this game, but understanding there’s an effort required and an intensity required and a level of team input required.”
Essendon coach James Hird said that having spent the bye weekend, a fortnight ago, working on improved ball use and making more of its inside-50s, the emphasis last night was on playing ”the same sort of football”, no matter the scoreline.
He praised Watson’s first-quarter influence, when he had 14 possessions, and the care he showed for his teammates each week.
”I suppose the hard thing is to temper his expectations,” Hird said after the game.
”Somewhere along the line there’s going to be a game that’s not quite as good, so that’s part of coaching him, trying to temper his expectations.
”He stood up, I think he had nine possessions in the first 15 minutes. His leadership to get across what I want to get across is outstanding, but his leadership and care for his teammates means he’s more than just a player.”
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