Magpies give Bombers an Anzac Day lesson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies give Bombers an Anzac Day lesson

By Sam Lienert 25/04/2008 08:22:11 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights labelled the performance against Collingwood dismal and unacceptable as the Bombers' formline continued downwards and their injury count upwards.

Veteran defender Dustin Fletcher joined a host of sidelined teammates when he strained an adductor muscle late in the third quarter of 23.16 (154) to 12.9 (81) thumping at the MCG, the biggest belting in the history of Anzac Day clashes between these two clubs.

It was also Essendon's biggest defeat against Collingwood in 37 years.

Adding to the gloom, Knights conceded it would be a surprise if speedster Alwyn Davey returned this season after suffering a knee injury at training.

The Bombers were already hurting without stars Scott Lucas (knee) and Mark McVeigh, one of five players out with hamstring injuries, but Knights said the absence of those and other players was no excuse.

"It was unacceptable the way we played," the coach said.

"Even early in the game we were about four or five goals each, but we didn't really play that well ... after that initial period I just thought they monstered us around the stoppages and were just too big and strong."

Knights said his players too often pushed ahead of contests and expected teammates to win the ball and deliver it to them, rather than staying to help fight for it themselves.

But that was far from his only gripe, saying the Magpies were also prepared to run harder.

"We were very disappointing and dismal in our efforts today at times," Knights said.

"Uncontested marks were (119 to 62 Collingwood's way) which meant Collingwood worked really hard to get free. Secondly, we didn't work hard enough to close their space down and thirdly, when we had the ball we didn't work hard for each other and get out in the open."

He also conceded that once things started rolling the Magpies' way, the young Essendon side lost their nerve.

"We probably did go back into our shell a bit ... it was disappointing that we didn't make a stand," he said.

Knights also conceded to erring at selection, with the late withdrawal of Collingwood big forward Anthony Rocca leaving Essendon with too many tall players matched up against smaller, quicker opponents.

Things are fast heading downhill for Essendon, who just a month ago were the flavour of the moment, after thrashing North Melbourne in the opening round, following a bright pre-season in which they unveiled some talented young players and a fast-paced attacking style.

But they have lost their past three games, with the performance as bad as any, as the injury toll continues to bite.

Knights admitted the loss of Davey, who will have scans on Monday, was a considerable blow, given the importance of his speed and skill to their game-style.

"He's the lifeblood of our forward line at times," Knights said.

"He just went down in a freak training incident yesterday, he was just looking to rove the ball off a stoppage and just went to change direction and stopped and propped and at this stage it looks like he's in a lot of trouble."

Fletcher will miss at least next Sunday's clash with Port Adelaide.

But Knights said his team would not allow the wave of injuries to reduce their ambitions.

"I said to the players at the start of the year we're going to virtually use all the list, so the bottom line, just because we've got injuries today, it's no excuse," he said.

To cap a dark day, key position player Courtney Johns was reported for crashing into Scott Pendlebury in the first term, although his performance was poor anyway in his first senior game for the year.

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