Essendon's Jake Melksham has a word with his coach Mark Thompson during a break. Photo: Getty Images
Essendon coach Mark Thompson has challenged his side's habit - or culture - of only starting to play once it had given up sizeable leads, after the team lost a third game despite being ahead with only two minutes to play.
The Bombers slipped to a five-goal deficit in the second quarter before rallying hard in the second half to hit the lead. The team finally went down by nine points to Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Friday.
"(I am) full of anger and disappointment (now) basically. It was hard work to get them back in the game, hard work to get in front and it seemed relatively easy to lose it," Thompson said.
AFL Round 15: Geelong v Essendon
A thrilling encounter at Etihad Stadium between Geelong and Essendon saw Geelong eventual winners 13.11.89 to 11.14.80 . Photographer Pat Scala captured all the action from the match. Photo: Pat Scala
Essendon kicked 5.5 to just two Geelong behinds to hit the front and go nine points ahead early in the final quarter. It was halted by two brilliant goals by Steven Motlop in the last term.
"Our openness cost us, our dumbness ... anyway sh*t happens," Thompson said.
"We have had three games where we have been in front of the match with two minutes to go, and lost three. After a while it gets you." he said referring to the losses to Melbourne and Hawthorn.
Thompson blamed a culture - or habit - of only playing with freedom once the side fell a long way behind.
"The Hawthorn game was the same. It was almost like they powered out of the blocks, we lost our courage, our instinctiveness. they become reactive, you settle them down at half-time, they come out and you see them play.
"I thought the third quarter was terrific footy, it was what we model our game on, it was perfect play. (but) it started to break down a bit late in the third quarter. We looked vulnerable at times.
"Two years ago we won those matches so sometimes it can go in runs. I think we have had enough of them, the bad results hopefully get some good ones in the future.
"You would hope they don't wait to play when they are four or five goals behind. It's a skill thing, it's a trait, it's a habit, it's a culture. To be good in this business you have to be ready to play when the siren starts. The teams that continually play in finals and preliminary finals they do that."
Paul Chapman, playing against his old side, made little impact.
"He couldn't get in the game. You shouldn't underestimate it, should you? Even while playing he would have thought about the whole Geelong thing and what is he doing playing against these players," he said.
In contrast, Thompson said the dea of coaching against players he has coached for many years and to two premierships had not fazed him.
"It didn't do that much for me I didn't want to bat them any more. It was just an opposition team," he said.
Thompson said he had not watched the federal court case on TV on Friday and the Essendon players who watched TV said they chose to watch the NBA draft.