Round 17 – Essendon v Port Adelaide: ‘Baby Bombers Version 2.0’ go down to Port by 13 points in a shootout under the roof

The Bombers were back at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night to take on Port Adelaide, in what was going to be a tough game for the Bombers. This was because they played a much more fancied and experienced Port outfit. The Bombers again fielded a very young side, as they had six players who had played less than 16 games. Coming off a good effort against North Melbourne last week, they knew if they brought that same pressure and effort they were in with a shot of winning.

It was Port who got the win by 13 points, in what was a high scoring free-flowing game. It was another great effort by this young Bomber outfit. The most promising thing that came out of the loss was the games of young players Kyle Langford, Jayden Laverde and 10th gamer Nick O’Brien.

The first quarter began and the Bombers knew they had to get off to a good start and take their chances, as they knew Port would punish them on the rebound. It was Port who got the first goal of the game through a goal to Jay Schultz. Then, after some good pressure by the Bombers, they hit the front and got the mini break after goals to 100 gamer Dyson Heppell, Jackson Merrett and Cale Hooker. This game was free flowing early, as it was going end to end. After a period of no scoring and some circle work, Port grabbed the momentum by kicking a couple of quick goals and the scores were level halfway through the term. The momentum of the game then changed again as the Bombers kicked three goals, to hit the front and get their lead out to 17 points. This included a goal to where first year players Laverde and Langford combined. It was good to see a couple of the first year players combining; good signs for the future. Port responded to get the margin back to 10 points with a goal to the skipper Travis Boak. This was the last score of the quarter as the quarter time siren went and the Bombers up by 10 points. The Bombers were looking good, their pressure was up, and they were taking their opportunities. It was 6.1 to 4.3.

As the second quarter began the Bombers knew they had to keep up the pressure and sustain the attack on the footy shown in the first quarter. They were able to do that, as they got the first of the second quarter, through a running goal to backman Michael Hurley. The margin was 16 points. The young Bombers were taking it up to the more fancied Port team. Both teams were putting the pressure on as the high level of intensity had continued from the first. After a costly turnover by the Bombers from a kick in lead to a Port goal and the margin was 10 points. This turnover was the turning point of the quarter as it completely shifted the momentum to Port, as they kicked 4 unanswered goals to all of a sudden lead by 8 points. Port were on a roll and the Bombers needed a goal. They were able to get that goal through Zach Merrett, however Port were able to quickly respond with a couple of goals and the margin was 14 points. Bombers then started to win some of the ball and started peppering the goals. They just couldn’t get it through the big sticks and proceeded to kick 6 behinds in the space of about 5 minutes. So instead of potentially being in front as the half time siren went, the Bombers trailed by 8 points. It seemed like the Bombers’ inaccurate kicking was rearing its ugly head again, it was 10.5 to 8.9.

This lead to an intriguing second half as the Bombers needed to put those late misses behind them and start the third quarter well. This was due to the fact that if Port got on a roll they would be tough to stop. It was Port who got the first two goals of the quarter to get the margin out to a game high 20 points. The Bombers desperately needed a goal to get something going and get back into this game. They were able to get that goal through David Zaharakis and then a couple of more quick goals to young players and future stars Jayden Laverde and Kyle Langford. This got the margin back to only two points and the Bombers were starting to lift the pressure on Port. They had a couple of opportunities to hit the front but they couldn’t take them and Port were able take it up the other end and goal. Then, with not long left in the quarter, second gamer Kyle Langford made a bone crunching tackle which lead to him have a set shot on goal, which he converted, to level the scores going into the final break. The siren went not long after that and as the three quarter time siren went scores were level, in what was still a high scoring, free flowing game, it was 13.6 to 12.12.

Scores were level going into the last and first goal was going to be crucial as it could have been an indication of which way this game was going to go. Unfortunately from a Bombers point of view, it was Port who got the first couple of goals of the quarter; margin was 13 points. The Bombers like they have done all night responded and got two quick goals through Joe Daniher and Alex Browne. This bought the margin back to one point, with still a lot of time left in the quarter. The young players were standing up for the Bombers and were playing a huge role in the Bombers staying in the game. However as it looked like the Bombers were going to take the lead, the Power went up a gear and piled on 3 quick goals to get the margin out to a game high 21 points. With 5-6 minutes left and Port looking like they had the game in control, this young Bomber outfit dug deep and bought about two quick goals to Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker. Margin was only 9 points. This mini fight back was stop by Port, who goaled and that was the game. From then on Port had the game in control, as they started to chip the ball around. Both sides trade late goals and as the final siren went the Bombers had gone down by 13 points. The final score was 20.9 to 17.14.

So the Bombers had lost, in what was an entertaining, free-flowing game. It wasn’t by much as it was only 13 points and the effort was certainly there by this young Bombers outfit. They did have their chances though throughout the game, as they had more scoring shots than Port did. Especially late in that second quarter where they kicked 6 behinds in a row. This was a major problem for the Bombers still as their inaccurate kicking was costing them games. One of the major positives to come out of this match was the way the young players played. This showed that there was plenty of promise for the future and hopefully they can get a win for their efforts next week.

About Nick Weidmann

Former Honours student in Journalism at the University of Tasmania and passionate Essendon supporter

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