Essendon champion Scott Lucas has praised the Dons defensive pressure during the win over St Kilda.
The Bombers took the lead two minutes into the game and were never headed after that on their way to a 61-point win.
The match showcased the side’s skill, speed and attacking prowess but Lucas said the heavy scoring was built on excellent defence.
“They moved the ball quickly but as a result of that you got the ball inside 50 and therefore gave the forwards a chance one on one to mark the football,” he said.
‘We saw how well Joey played, but also Bellchambers taking contested marks up there – so generally it (fast ball movement) gives your forwards a real chance.
“But overlooked with the way they played was their tackling and their pressure around the footy.
“It really started there – they got the ball back off St Kilda and went with real speed and gave their forwards a great chance.”
The Bombers won the tackle count (68-50) and the contested possessions (135-120).
But early in the match the side missed a number of set shot opportunities.
“They dominated the play but didn’t get reward for their efforts,” Lucas said.
“There is always the chance with momentum that St Kilda would work their way back into the game – fortunately the Bombers continued to keep speed on the game and the pressure around the ball was outstanding.
“Conversion is one area all teams are looking to be as efficient as they can and the Bombers generally this year have been very good, so they’ll continue to work on that.”
Zach Merrett (37 disposals), Michael Hurley (27 disposals, held Nick Riewoldt to one goal and kicked a goal of his own), David Zaharakis (32 disposals, two goals) and Joe Daniher (four goals) were among the Bombers best.
But Lucas said the form of Tom Bellchambers has been a key factor in recent weeks..
“An injury early in the year slowed him down but now he’s come back into the team he really has established himself in that number one ruck position,” he said.
“Not only his tap work and the way he’s been able to direct the ball to his midfield but also going forward – taking marks and kicking goals.”
Martin Gleeson has been another strong contributor in the middle third of the season.
He took ten marks against the Saints and Lucas said his ability in the air provides an added boost for the Bombers.
“He’s been super, really holding down that half back position and working super well with James Kelly,” Lucas said.
“What I’ve liked is his intercept marking – he’s marking so well for a player his size.”
Source: Essendon FC’s website