Bombers can embrace the past and own the future: Rutten

Bombers can embrace the past and own the future: Rutten

By Lance Jenkinson

With Essendon taking its place with the last eight teams standing in the AFL this season, the media will undoubtedly roll out the warts and all statistics focusing on the club’s barren finals record in recent times.

The Bombers need no reminding of their past five finals appearances ending in straight sets exits and their last finals victory coming back in 2004.

Essendon coach Ben Rutten is not shying away from those facts either and has implored his players to take the good with the bad when it comes to the club’s history.

While acknowledging the club’s recent finals pain, Rutten also reminded the media that “we’ve also won 16 premierships”.

“That’s part and parcel of being involved in a 150-year footy club,” he said of the inevitable ups and downs in football.

“That’s part of being at the Essendon footy club and part of what our players have really embraced throughout the course of this season, [which] is really embracing our history and re-connecting there and bringing a lot of that with us.”

What matters to Rutten the most is Essendon’s next chapter.

Only this current group of Bombers can dictate where the story goes from here.

“They’re also really clear that the next chapter in our history hasn’t been written yet,” he said.

Essendon will meet the Western Bulldogs, who they beat three weeks ago at Marvel Stadium, in an elimination final in Launceston on Sunday.

Rutten described the chance to feature in finals as an “awesome” feeling.

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Some external sources might not have believed in the Bombers before the season, but Rutten and the players did.

The Bombers take a lot of confidence into the finals after easily accounting for Collingwood by 38 points in the final round at the MCG on Sunday.

“It’s something that, certainly at the start of the year, we set out to do,” Rutten said.

“I think our last month, we’ve built some real momentum, our belief, our squad is really healthy at the right time of year.

“It’s a whole of club effort to be able to get us to this point as well.

“It’s a good reward for the effort a whole lot of people have put in.”

The result of the Collingwood game did not matter too much, but the manner of Essendon’s disposal of their arch rivals was impressive.

In particular, the Bombers willingness to reward a teammate in a better position showed that a team ethos is of utmost importance to those in red and black.

Devon Smith led the way in that department, providing two unselfish passes that led to goals in the second quarter, when, on both occasions, he had every right to blaze away for goal.

One of those assists ignited Jake Stringer, who had been quiet to that point of the game.

Smith’s unselfishness became infectious throughout the team.

He had 10 score involvements in his two-goal, 23-possession game.

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One of the major beneficiaries of the sharing Bombers was tall forward Peter Wright.

Wright was able to take advantage of one-on-one mismatches due to his teammates willingness to kick it to him – as opposed to wildly taking pot shots at goal.

The 24-year-old kicked four goals, once again commanded the air and built further trust in his teammates.

Alec Waterman was another dangerous Bomber forward with four majors.

Essendon was able to generate so much of its attack off the half back line.

The daring play of Nick Hind and Mason Redman caught the eye.

The pair were not afraid to leave their Magpies opponents and join the attack.

They could do so knowing they had defensive cover in the form of Dyson Heppell.

Heppell set up a lot of play in the back half while the Hind-Redman combination made their daring ventures.

Hind’s overlapping runs and penetrating kicks turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye.

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One of the recruits of the year, Hind is able to find targets while running at full speed.

Redman is the more defensive of the duo, but he is taking a leaf out of Hind’s book and being a more damaging runner with the ball.

If Essendon is to knock off the Bulldogs in week one of the finals, it will take nothing short of a whole team effort.

The Bombers batted deep in their win over Collingwood and will need to do so again with the Bulldogs surely to be smarting on the back of three straight losses.

Lance Jenkinson

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