TIM Watson was impressed by Essendon’s collective pressing in their encouraging AAMI Community Series outing against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.
The Bombers dominated the inside 50 count but went down by seven points on Saturday night due to some inaccurate goalkicking.
Veteran bookend Cale Hooker kicked four goals while recruits Peter Wright and Nick Hind also performed well.
But it was Essendon’s work without the ball that caught Watson’s attention.
“The players were pushing up high and quickly to put pressure on the opposition,” the Bombers great told SEN Breakfast.
“Richmond do this better than anybody, they lose the ball, and then they win it back really quickly, and Essendon were showing signs of getting onto the Geelong team quickly after they had lost possession of the ball.
“That requires everybody to be on the same page because you have to leave your man at some point and you’ve got to have the confidence to do that and know that somebody is going to push in behind you and fill that space.
“For me, that means they’ve done a lot of work on that style of football that they haven’t been particularly good at.”
Former Bomber Adam Cooney liked the “bold” ball movement from Ben Rutten’s side in the narrow loss to the Cats.
“I was really impressed. They should have won that game by four or five goals,” Cooney told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.
“They had a mountain of opportunities inside 50 – at one stage they were +20 inside 50s – it was just that last kick going in.
“I think Bombers supporters should be really excited.
“I know it’s only a small sample size, but coming up against a good team in Geelong, I thought the way they moved the footy was pretty bold.
“They actually cut up the Cats through the middle of the ground at times.”
Essendon face rivals Hawthorn in Round 1 of the AFL home and away season at Marvel Stadium on March 20.
– BY ALEX ZAIA/SEN