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Bombers enriched by Hurley factor

Date

Michael Gleeson

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Collingwood back on top

Our footy experts review the weekend's AFL action, including the battle between the Magpies and the Eagles at the MCG.

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ESSENDON needed this. Sure, the win in Perth was important and hey, it even won in June, which was something of a novelty, but it wasn't the bit it needed. What it really needed was Michael Hurley.

With the players missing from the Fremantle side - Stephen Hill, Nathan Fyffe, Hayden Ballantyne, Aaron Sandilands - the Dons should have won in Perth and broken their rough run at that ground. That they did will be satisfying no matter the number of Dockers in dry dock.

It will give them some pep, but there was much more to like about this win, not nearly as much as the sight of the way Hurley moved. Of course we have been here before with Hurley - a few explosive performances that have not built on one another - but he is yet young.

Michael Hurley was one of the Essendon players who stood out against Fremantle.

Michael Hurley was one of the Essendon players who stood out against Fremantle. Photo: Getty Images

On Saturday night he had three goals in the first quarter and added a few more late. He played higher up the ground at centre half-forward and Essendon looked more balanced as a consequence. Of course, whenever a forward is marking and goaling, a team looks more balanced, but Hurley is a player of presence and he provides more of that when he is roaming at centre half-forward.

Hurley was not playing on idiots - Alex Silvagni and Luke McPharlin - and needed this sort of breakout game. His year had been poor - he had kicked only seven goals before Saturday night in his eight other games this season.

A quirky stat reflects poorly on his ability to sustain his effort. Only once - in the first three rounds last year - has he kicked multiple goals in successive games but when he plays like he did on Saturday night, the Dons looks a more complete side.

There were two players who stood out on Saturday night. Hurley was one. The other was his captain.

Jobe Watson has long been an elite player, but on Saturday night he had the sort of influence on the game that few players have had.

Don't want to sound silly here but there was something of James Hird about the way Watson played in the last quarter. He was dead ordinary for three quarters as Ryan Crowley had the better of him, but when the matter was truly in dispute, Watson had a calmness about him. He held the ball and waited on his disposal. It was the difference between watching a tailender and Mark Waugh bat. It was effortless, unpanicked. He had time and timing.

When he leant over to Jake Melksham to talk through a shot at goal, it spoke of his maturity. Melksham obeyed and kicked the goal.

The way he was mobbed when his own kick for goal went through told of the feeling among his players.

7 comments

  • Hurley is playing good footy and is a pleasure to watch.

    He almost stuffed it up before he started with some off-field action. Luckily for him his name was not Andrew Krakouer.

    Commenter
    jaro
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    June 25, 2012, 12:01PM
    • As a Bombers fan, I actually said to a mate just last week that Hurley was overrated! Whilst he hasn't made me eat my words yet, a few more performances like that one versus Freo, plus making his off days a bit more constructive and I'll be gladly eating my words many times over!

      Commenter
      DJCJ
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 25, 2012, 1:11PM
      • DJCJ - he had been a bit up and down, so you had some justification. He was brilliant on Saturday.

        Commenter
        Laki
        Location
        Windy Hill
        Date and time
        June 25, 2012, 4:51PM
    • He looks the goods. Maybe if he loses the ego he'll become more consistant.

      Commenter
      Bushy
      Location
      the Bush
      Date and time
      June 25, 2012, 3:35PM
      • True that Hurley has not yet lived up to the hype as a forward, but two factors have influenced that. One is that he has spent significant time injured; the other is that he has spent time in the backline and proved his worth there. That makes Gleeson's point about goals in successive games moot as a measure of Hurley's worth.

        Commenter
        Go Dons
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 26, 2012, 12:30PM
        • Hurley is not over rated DJCJ, he's had an interrupted season and pre-season which put him behind in his fitness.
          He has battled hard all season, and needs more assistance from his other forwards - except Crameri who has played well. Monfries needs to do more, as does Paddy Ryder on occasion. Things might improve next season when Joe Daniher takes over at full forward...

          Commenter
          Maryjo
          Location
          St Kilda VIC
          Date and time
          June 29, 2012, 2:27AM
          • Right the first time DJCJ, overrated. The guy's about the same age as Jack Riewoldt and achieved nothing like Jack has. Yet the media and Essendon fans have been hyping him up like he was the next Carey cause he huffs and puffs around the ground strutting like a peacock. Always happens with Essendon players, Gumbleton was going to be the next big thing, Courtney Johns the list goes on.
            Hurley's a good player not a superstar. He plays good quarters here and there and I reckon this story must have been in the can for 18 months waiting for him to finally play a decent game.

            Commenter
            Martin
            Location
            Preston
            Date and time
            June 29, 2012, 1:40PM
            Comments are now closed
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