By Nicholas Galea
Coburg has been defeated by VFL flag fancy in the Essendon Bombers at Piranha Park by 39 points, 8.11 59 to 15.8 98 after a free flowing display by both sides. Coburg also unveiled its NAIDOC guernsey for a second season to celebrate and acknowledge the culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Pre-game, Rob Bamblett a member of the One Fire Aboriginal Dance Company was a guest performer who spoke about what NAIDOC Week meant to his people and also performed the didgeridoo.
Coburg started the first term with great pressure and intensity but it was the Bombers who opened their account early through Jordan Begley.
Despite Coburg’s back six’s best efforts, the Bombers were clinical when moving the ball into the forward 50 with its forwards looking dangerous above and on ground level kicking a further three goals stretching the margin to 25 points.
A goal after the siren to Steven Stroobants kept the Lions in the hunt.
The early stages of the second quarter were an arm wrestle but a classy finish from Essendon’s Trent Mynott extended their lead.
With their tails up the Bombers started to flex their muscle locking the ball inside 50 as they were able to prevent Coburg’s half backs and midfield group from clearing the ball beyond the wings.
At half time Coburg trailed Essendon, 1.5 11 to 9.5 59.
The roles were reversed after the main break with Coburg having the better of the third quarter as they were able to have larger sustained periods of control which resulted in faster, more aggressive ball movement and repeat inside 50 entries (18 for the quarter).
The positional switch of regular ruckman Adam Swierzbiolek and forward Mark Baker also troubled Essendon’s defence which created more space for the Lions forwards to work with.
The move paid dividends with Coburg slotting consecutive goals through Stroobants (second goal) and Jack Murphy bringing the margin back to 36 points but the Bombers responded twice through Gown and Houlahan. A late goal to Swierzbiolek saw the deficit at 41 points going into three quarter time.
The Lions needed to make inroads early in the final quarter and co captain Peter McEvoy obliged slotting his first of the day after some crafty forward play by Steven Stroobants but the Bombers immediately responded.
Both sides continued to look dangerous when going forward but it was the Lions who were starting to tick the scoreboard over with three consecutive goals to Smith, Podhajski and Dickson bringing the margin back to a manageable 22 points with 10 minutes remaining. Unfortunately the spirited comeback was halted as the Bombers regained their composure kicking the final three goals of the game
Speaking post game, forward and development coach Steven Stroobants was pleased with how Coburg played the game out.
‘They got on top a little bit early but I think we were still playing good football,’ he said.
‘The second half I think we started to get the game back on our terms and it showed on the scoreboard, unfortunately it was too little too late.’
Stroobants was also upbeat about the progress of Coburg’s young and developing forwards in Hedley Smith and Mark Baker.
‘For Hedley it’s all about his consistency, he gets to the right spots and he competes hard,’ Stroobants said.
‘With a bit more development and a couple of years in the system he’ll be a very good VFL player.
‘“Bakes” is a big tall lad and just needs to put a bit of weight on. He’ll be a really good key position player for Coburg whether that’s in the ruck or up forward.
‘Essendon are a very good team but I thought we competed really well in the second half,’ he said.
‘They took advantage of us not playing our best footy in the first half but in the second half we really took it up to them, I think we beat them in the second half which is a big positive for us.’
‘It gives us massive confidence going into the bye and North Melbourne the week after that we can compete and potentially beat the best teams.’
Coburg will have its second bye of the 2019 VFL season next week before returning to Piranha Park the week after. We encourage all Coburg Football Club members and supporters to come down to our game and cheer on our boys when we take on North Melbourne. The opening bounce will commence at 12.30pm.
Coburg: 1.2 1.5 4.7 8.11 59
Essendon: 4.3 9.5 11.6 15.8 98
Goals: Stroobants 2, Dickson, Podhajski, Swierzbiolek, Smith, Murphy and McEvoy.
Bests: J. McDonald, L. Whelan, L. Dickson, B. Foster, R. Exon, L. Bunker