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Bombers hit by ‘unfortunate events’, says coach

AFL Rd 16 - Geelong v Essendon
Essendon ruckman Sam Draper (left) was the victim in a horror passage of play which left the Bombers 15 points down in the third quarter against Geelong. Picture: Graham Denholm / Getty Images

Soul-searching is not on the cards at Essendon but coach Brad Scott says a second-half meltdown against Geelong was a “harsh lesson” in responding to misfortune.

Scott was measured when he spoke about a cluster of contentious umpiring decisions against the Bombers in the third term but was disappointed by how his players answered.

He denied the decision to field two specialist ruckmen in wet conditions at the MCG had cost his side as Geelong piled on 10 goals after halftime to claim an emphatic 45-point win.

The coach did not weigh in on the specific decisions which drew the ire of Essendon fans, including the non-call of a free kick to Sam Draper and a whistle for a deliberate rushed behind against Jye Menzie which both led to Geelong goals.

“We clearly lost momentum in the third quarter through a series of unfortunate events, and we didn’t set up behind the ball, got transitioned, you don’t get a scoring opportunity and it goes down the other end and (they) score,” Scott said.

Geelong vs Essendon
Geelong wingman Ollie Dempsey wins a free kick directly in front of goal after Essendon’s Jye Menzie was penalised for a deliberate rushed behind. Picture: Michael Klein

“We just had a patch there where we lost total control of the game – that can happen, through a variety of factors – what I’m most disappointed about is we lost momentum and then we lost our composure.

“Things go against you in games of footy all the time, whether it’s the opposition doing great things or other things that happen that are outside your control … the only thing you can do is control your response to it, and our response tonight was really disappointing, a step back in that area for us.”

Scott, who has been a vocal critic of the AFL’s match review processes this season, said he would not look for an explanation on the free kick against Menzie, who was tailed towards the goal line by Geelong’s Ollie Dempsey before the wingman sagged back and appealed for a free kick.

“If I thought it would help … if there’s been a change of rule, then we’ll seek clarification, but I suspect what will happen is (the AFL) will say, ‘sorry, it’s a mistake’,” Scott said.

Geelong vs Essendon
Former Essendon captain and club champion Dyson Heppell was chaired off by teammates Zach Merrett (left) and Andy McGrath (right) following his 250th game. Picture: Michael Klein

“We can’t change it, we can’t control it … that’s our lesson. Can we do anything about it? I only seek clarification on something I think is going to be a concern going forward, but I don’t think you need to direct that question to me.”

The Bombers coach said on Wednesday the weather would play into whether Todd Goldstein was picked alongside Sam Draper, but stood by his call to select both despite heavy rainfall on Saturday.

“I liked it around the contest, I didn’t think that hurt us at all. Draper maybe looked more threatening than he actually was forward, but even in the conditions we like Draper’s ability to give us a contest in the forward half – we just couldn’t capitalise when the ball hit the ground,” Scott said.

“Early on in the first half we did, I thought we looked really dangerous when the ball hit the ground. The balance of our side was fine.

“The ruck set up didn’t cost us in my opinion, I think it’s probably just too easy to say we were too tall, I didn’t think that impacted us.”