David Zaharakis celebrates a goal for the Bombers. Picture: Getty Images
David Zaharakis celebrates a goal for the Bombers. Picture: Getty Images

Can the Bombers start dreaming of finals?

IT was almost appropriate that a David Myers miracle miskick from the boundary basically sealed Essendon's 10th win of the season.

The Bombers beat the Dockers on Saturday almost in spite of themselves, dominating the stats sheets, racking up 34 scoring shots from 63 inside 50s, but only just getting over the line late

To sum up, it was expectation murdered by execution. Endeavour and effort were everywhere, from both teams in fact. It was a spirited encounter for sure.

A lot of teams do have to survive a bit on spirit at this stage of the season but those spirits should be heightened when you think you are a sniff of featuring in September.

And Essendon's season sort of came alive before the ball was bounced at Etihad Stadium.

North Melbourne losing to Collingwood was a tick then the Swans, Essendon's opponent next week, were on the wrong end of the rising Suns, taking their win total to just one in the past month.

 

The long-range forecast, with an expected win over Fremantle to be ticked off, was suddenly a bit more blue sky for the Bombers, despite their percentage woes, courtesy of that dark and stormy start to the season.

And the stats sheet was on script too. It read like a red and black massacre.

Orazio Fantasia was an unstoppable force on Saturday.
Orazio Fantasia was an unstoppable force on Saturday.

There was 28 more inside 50s, 61 more disposals, 13 more clearances, 18 more marks. All the good stuff. The Bombers even caught up late to win the free kicks. Really, they did.

Matches however are not won on a stats sheet, and the tension that gripped the 31,546 under the roof until the final five minutes was testament to watching a team which just doesn't quite have the all-round polish it would need even if it was to advance to the post-season.

There's so much to like about what the Bombers could do. But could, like potential, is a word that can be such a tease.

The fact Essendon went forward so much, so often, says much about their ability on and behind the ball. Adam Saad was superb, winning one-on-one battles down back then charging away as he does.

Through the middle Zach Merrett was everywhere when needed, and Dyson Heppell continued his all-round-the-ground efforts. They are those clean guys you need in the hard stuff and then in open ground to get the ball going your way.

Shaun McKernan left the game with an injury. Picture: Getty Images
Shaun McKernan left the game with an injury. Picture: Getty Images

David Zaharakis was a welcome inclusion too, as was Orazio Fantastia, obviously. He's worth way more than his weight in goals for Essendon now and well in to the future.

His diminutive yet overpowering presence was all the more crucial when Shaun McKernan limped off during the second quarter with what looks a bad hamstring.

But for all the positives, the Bombers continued to frustrate through turnovers and missteps and what at times seemed to be a lack of awareness, or alertness, to the situation which they were in.

Fremantle offered solid resistance but more by taking advantage of what the Bombers couldn't do

The visitors converted just 35 inside 50s in to 11 goals, which is pretty good going. They seized on turnovers, which dissipated when it mattered most, late in the game.

That's when Essendon continued to fly, and got the job done. It would have been horrible if they didn't.



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