Essendon’s rise up the ladder in 2022

AFTER being around the mark for several seasons now, Essendon is one of the teams to beat in the VFLW this season. But what has caused this improvement this year? Let us look at the stats and see whether they can tell us the answer.

The personnel

Although the likes of Georgia Nanscawen and Mia-Rae Clifford are still there from last season, some of the inclusions the Bombers have brought in this season have just added another level to class to the Bombers side.

Down in defence, Danielle Marshall has come in and not only proven how versatile she is, but her booming kick has gotten Essendon out of sticky situations on a number of occasions. Her 50-60m kicks can get the Bombers from deep in defensive 50 out to someone like Nanscawen on the wing and then they can really get an attacking play going.

Moving into the midfield, and the inclusion of Jordan Zanchetta and Amelia Radford has helped Nanscawen and elevated that midfield. Radford actually has the highest average disposals per game (22.9) in the entire league, while Zanchetta is fifth on that list (21.3).

Finally moving into the forward line, and Renee Tierney has come in and created another dangerous element to an already star studded forward line. She currently sits fifth on the league goal kicking ladder with 13 goals for the season.

It’s not from winning the ruck battles, but clearances are another story

With the team doing as well as it is, you would think that they would be dominating every stat, but that is not the case. They are being comfortably beaten in the hitouts. While Essendon have averaged 21.33 hit outs a game thus far this season, their opposition have averaged 32.3 hitouts.

However, the clearances are a very different story. So far this season, Essendon have averaged 26.8 clearances a game, compared to only 22 on average for the opposition.

This means that although Simone Nalder is not necessarily getting first to the ball in the ruck contest, the likes of Nanscawen, Zanchetta and Radford are, and with their pace they can burst out of packs and can get an attacking play moving quickly and really make the most of the clearance.

They are dominating the inside 50s

Another stat the Bombers are dominating in is the inside 50 count. In the first nine rounds of this season, the Bombers have averaged 41.3 inside 50s a game, which is miles ahead of what oppositions have managed (17.1 inside 50s a game).

When you look at how easily the Bombers win it out of the middle at times with the likes of Nanscawen, Zanchetta and Radford, and the space they create and the quickness with which they can get it into that forward 50, it is no wonder there is such a disparity.

What did the Southern Saints get right that everyone else could not?

Essendon has had dominant wins in eight of their nine matches this season. The one other match was against the Southern Saints back in Round 5.

What did the Saints get so right that they could match it with the Bombers, that no other side did? The Saints matched it with the Bombers in many of the key stats.

They only had 32 less disposals then the Bombers (the Bombers normally average over 100 more touches then their opponents), only three less inside 50s then the Bombers, and actually had more clearance then the Bombers did.

What does this mean for the rest of the season?

Things could go one of two ways. In the last five rounds of the season, they have the Western Bulldogs, Darebin, Hawthorn, the Southern Saints and then a very enticing final round clash against Casey. Some of those games Essendon is likely to dominate in, but if teams look at the stats, they also have a blueprint for what to do to take points off the rampaging Bombers.

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