Hoodoo over, problems remain for Bombers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hoodoo over, problems remain for Bombers

Laine Clark 15/05/2011 02:33:59 PM Comments (0)

The Gabba has never been a happy hunting ground for Essendon.

And Bombers coach James Hird still couldn't crack a smile, despite Essendon capturing a rare victory in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Hird would have been forgiven for feeling over the moon after Essendon's first Gabba win since round eight in 2000.

Notorious for their inability to win away, the Bombers had lost their past six Gabba games to the Brisbane Lions by an average of 32 points.

But Hird still looked concerned after just their second win outside Victoria in 11 matches - and no wonder.

An injury cloud over captain Jobe Watson and a misfiring forward line was enough to discourage the most passionate Bombers fan after Saturday night's 36-point win over the last-placed Lions.

Star midfielder Watson was substituted after the third quarter, succumbing to a hamstring complaint which had troubled him since the pre-season.

Still Hird was hopeful Watson would run out against Richmond next round.

"We're certainly hopeful it's not a strain," Hird said.

"He (Watson) came off, I think in the middle of the third quarter, went back on and actually kicked a goal, so it looks like it's all functioning well, but I won't sit here and say he hasn't got a hamstring strain.

"We'll just have to wait and see on Monday when we give him an MRI (scan) but we're all fingers crossed that he'll be able to play next week.

"He's a very important player for us, obviously."

Another potential headache was Essendon's inability to put the Lions away despite dominating the inside forward 50s by 75-36.

Incredibly, Essendon dominated the inside 50 entry count 20-10 in the first term but trailed by three points.

By halftime, they extended it to 39-17, yet were still behind by one point.

But Hird believed credit had to go to the Lions defence.

"The second quarter, we had a lot of entries, we just couldn't kick the goals and that had a lot to do with the way they were defending," Hird said.

"They beat us in the areas that we wanted to win at.

"We would love to go into every game and be six goals up at quarter time, but it's unrealistic, but the opposition's trying to do what you're trying to do, and they probably won that battle early."

Essendon's cause was not helped by the late withdrawal of Henry Slattery (hip) and Michael Hurley (calf).

But the Bombers still found a way into the winner's circle, thanks mainly to four-goal hero David Zaharakis, who exploded in the second half.

At halftime, Zaharakis had just five touches and hadn't troubled the scoreboard as the Bombers trailed by a solitary point.

In the second half, he finished one of the best on ground with 25 disposals and four majors, with Essendon sealing a six-goal victory.

"Zaharakis, after halftime, was terrific," Hird said.

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