James Hird
James Hird

Fading force Essendon may have lost another two key players to soft tissue injuries as their grip on a finals spot continues to loosen.

Forward Stewart Crameri suffered a hamstring injury and was a late withdrawal from the side that was humiliated to the tune of 94 points against Hawthorn on Friday night, while midfielder Brent Stanton also suffered tightness in his left hamstring.

Both will be assessed during the week ahead of the Bombers' trip to Adelaide to face the in-form Crows.

The setbacks bring the number of soft tissue injuries at Essendon to 23 under the fitness regime of new high performance manager Dean Robinson.

The Bombers suffered their third loss by more than 10 goals from their past four matches and slumped to an 11-6 record.

"They seemed to be running better than us, spreading better than us and the way we defended the ground meant even though we were having a few forward entries, as soon as it was going in it was coming out far too quickly," coach James Hird said at his post-match press conference.

"That's been Hawthorn's strength but it was a very poor part of our play today."

Hird admitted the recent heavy losses had dented his team's confidence.

"I can't put my finger on exactly why we performed the way we did today just yet. I thought last week Geelong's pressure beat us and probably got into our heads a bit," he said.

"This week it was a very different story. It will be interesting to look at the tape and see which guys wanted to defend and which guys didn't want to and why it went the way it did."

Meanwhile Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said Luke Hodge's five-goal comeback from a knee injury was the most pleasing aspect of the percentage-boosting win.

Playing his first AFL game since Round 6, the skipper had 16 possessions and six marks before he was subbed off at three-quarter time.

"That's not to say we didn't like the four points, because they're obviously crucial to us," Clarkson said.

"But to get both ... he's the captain of our club and he's been sorely missed throughout the course of the year so hopefully over the next three to four weeks he can get some genuine match conditioning so that he can run games out well and hopefully get a good run out of him at the end of the season.''


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