Rutten buoyed by Bombers' young gun Jones

·2-min read

Essendon coach Ben Rutten liked what he saw from debutant Harrison Jones despite a wayward goal-kicking display from the emerging key forward on his AFL debut.

Jones was a lively presence against Hawthorn on Saturday night with 13 disposals and five marks in a new-look forward set-up alongside Cale Hooker and Peter Wright.

The tall and athletic 20-year-old gave glimpses of what Rutten expects in years to come and his performance was one of the positives the Bombers took out of the Marvel Stadium contest.

However, he failed to take advantage of his chances in front of goal, finishing with 0.3 and one shot out of bounds.

"It's a good problem for him to have," Rutten said post-match.

"The way he jumped at the ball, his work rate and the way he connected with his teammates going inside 50 was fantastic.

"There's a really good look for our members and supporters about the future of our footy club right there.

"He'll get his kicking better, there's no doubt about that. He's working at it really hard, but I like him having those shots."

Jones was one of five fresh faces for Essendon, who dominated the second quarter but threw away a 40-point lead in their 14.8 (92) to 13.13 (91) defeat.

Fellow debutant Nik Cox showed promising signs on the wing after being taken with pick eight at last year's national draft, while off-season recruits Jye Caldwell and Nick Hind were among the Bombers' best players.

Wright kicked one goal and had three score assists.

Rutten, who completed a coaching handover from John Worsfold at the end of last year, wasn't quite sure whether his glass was half-full after the narrow loss.

The Bombers played scintillating football during an eight-goal burst in the second term, but let the Hawks ran riot in the third and ultimately came up short.

"It was certainly a game of two halves, that's for sure," Rutten said.

Essendon take on flag contenders Port Adelaide in round two and could welcome back Jake Stringer, who completed half a VFL scratch match on return from an Achilles issue on Saturday.

Archie Perkins, who, like Cox, was a top-10 draft pick last year, is also pressing his case for an early-season AFL debut after impressing at the lower level.