AFL Round 12 – Essendon v Gold Coast: Play it again, Joe

Essendon’s record against the expansion clubs isn’t good – aside from the 139-point flogging of the Gold Coast first time round. Last year we barely scraped over the line against the Suns (with only some Paddy Ryder brilliance saving us), and our efforts fighting off the Giants hasn’t been overly impressive (I don’t really need to mention our first-half from Round 6 do I?)

And this time round, the Gold Coast were actually in form. Quite good form actually. Their dismantling of North Melbourne in the wet had the hallmarks of a much more experienced, and dangerous side.

It was also around this time last season that our finals campaign fell horribly, awfully, disgustingly to shreds.

So, from a Bombers standpoint, this one actually was a danger game. Could we be upset by the young upstarts?

It all seemed plausible. But there was one key difference between this year and last.

A 19-year old kid named Joe.

The last ‘Joe’ to play for the Bombers was a hard-working ball-magnet from East Keilor going by the name ‘Misiti’.

Based on his first half efforts, young Daniher might be just as memorable.

After showing some dominant signs in the VFL in the early part of 2013, Daniher has been on the cusp of selection for several weeks.

Last week saw his much-awaited debut. There were some positive signs, but he looked a bit skinny and a bit out of place. Two gettable shots on goal pointed to the intense nerves he must have felt, with the weight of expectation proving just a bit too much to handle.

Saturday night was a different story however. Seven minutes into the first quarter, Joe swooped on a ball released under pressure from David Myers. Letting fly from the 50-metre arc, he – and the crowd – erupted as soon as it left the boot. As far as first AFL goals go, it was up there.

13 disposals, 5 contested marks and 3 goals in the first half showed off every bit of his 201cm frame, and every bit of his mobility around the ground. Sure, he needs two years in the gym –and a healthy dose of those pesky peptides – to truly reach his potential. But as far as initial impressions go, it was strong.

Of course, even with Daniher dominating in the first half the Bombers couldn’t quite kill off the Gold Coast early on. Despite being down early, they fought back bravely.

After two years struggling near the foot of the table, the Suns have made – dare I say it –giant steps this season. Their bodies are that bit older and stronger. Their structure that bit more solid. The forward pressure that bit more frenetic and effective.

And they have Gaz.

36 touches – 21 of them contested – a staggering 13 clearances, 7 tackles, and a general disdain and dismissal of any tagging attempts meant that Ablett was a class above everyone else.

They also have Jaeger O’Meara.

For an 18-year old, his performances this year have been truly astonishing. Saturday night was no different. 30 touches, hard-running, and strong grunt-work belied his 12-game experience.

The only problem for the Gold Coast was their lack of composure going forward. For every slick handball in the back-line that opened up play, the follow-up kick forward lacked penetration, accuracy, and allowed Essendon to rebound.

It was here that Essendon killed off the contest in the third quarter. Their run and spread off the half-back line was scary. At one stage in the last quarter, the Bombers cleared from defensive 50 with two handballs, a kick to Hibberd in the middle of the ground, and a two-bounce, 55-metre finish.

Aiding the cause was the match-long efforts of Goddard (working tirelessly on the way to 38 touches and 12 marks), Hooker (14 marks blunting the Sun’s forays), Ryder (dominant over the young Tom Nicholls with 18 touches, 26 hit-out and 2 goals – including a truly ridiculous 50-metre snap from the boundary).

Essendon attacked like a team with finals aspirations should. They scored heavily when the game was on the line, like a team with finals aspirations should. And they highlighted the gap between those teams ready for a tilt at the big-time, and those who aren’t.

The Gold Coast aren’t far off though.

Essendon: 4.3.27; 9.3.57; 13.7.85; 17.13.115

Gold Coast: 1.2.8; 5.5.35; 7.5.47; 11.6.72

Goals

Essendon: Daniher 3, Crameri 3, Hurley 2, Ryder 2, Davey, Myers, Howlett, Kommer, Goddard, Stanton, Hibberd

Gold Coast: Rischitelli 2, Brown 2, Nicholls 2, Harbrow, Ablett, Prestia, Hutchins, Day

Best

Essendon: Goddard, Ryder, Watson, Hibberd, Daniher, Hooker

Gold Coast: Ablett, O’Meara, Harbrow, Hall

Votes: Goddard (3), Ablett (2), Ryder (1)

 

 

About Sam Laffy

26-year old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....

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