Essendon loss to Sydney, Ben Rutten press conference, tackle count, reaction, Dylan Shiel, senior players, bad season

Not for the first time this season, Essendon is under the microscope of the AFL world after a lackluster performance that left its side rattled.

After a thrilling victory over Hawthorn in the eighth round, the Bombers came back to earth in the ninth round, beaten by Sydney 14.21 (105) to 6.11 (47) at the SCG.

The Bombers now hold a 2-7 record for 2022 and sit 16th in a season many predicted they would challenge for at least a top-eight berth for a second straight season.

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Young Swans Merrett Gun Floors | 00:28

“What this (the loss) says about Essendon is that last week was just an event,” St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt told Fox Footy’s. Best on the ground.

“They were able to get up for a week, they got the sugar shot, the players came out and for a week they were able to really fuck up and get together as a group and do it. Then they have the disappointment the following week.

“It looks like it (a flash in the pan last week) from what they cooked up in their captain’s (Dyson Heppell’s) 200th game tonight, the beating heart and soul of the club.

“You talk about emotional investment and being able to seize the moment – they didn’t fire a shot.”

Port Adelaide 300 player Kane Cornes was also scathing at the Bombers, drawing attention to the final tackle tally, which the Swans won 56-30 despite dominating the game.

“Battle down the hatches, Bombers fans, this is where your team is. You don’t make any defensive effort when you don’t have the football,” he told AFL Media’s The Round so Far.

“Yeah, last week in the last quarter, the game is on, take some football in your hands, the midfielder feels good in his skin, Peter Wright gives six and everything is fine. But as soon as that don’t go your way, you put your toes up.

“I’ve never seen a team throw in the towel like I did tonight. Essendon was a real contender at the start of this year and that is what they are producing.

Regarding the number of tackles, Cornes said: “That’s all you need to know about Essendon. They don’t care.

“They’ve thrown in the towel. Dyson Heppell may have a rebuke to the media for saying they were laughing – they have nothing to laugh about.”

Watching from the border, Swans legend Jude Bolton put it simply.

Sydney Swans press conference | 05:15

“One of the great things about being an elite football club is just being tough to play against,” he told Channel 7.

“For me I watch Essendon and when the game is on their terms they look like a good team and then the game gets a bit difficult and they just seem to falter, they don’t organize together and put together. not enough pressure on the opposition.”

Bombers coach Ben Rutten even appeared to take a thinly veiled jab at some of his seniors after the game.

“At night, the smaller pitch, the opposition, it demanded a contested pressure play and we weren’t ready,” he said.

“(Callum) Mills had 13 tackles individually. He was fantastic. He was one of many Swans who were ready to fight.

“When I look at our team, we haven’t shown the determination, the doggedness to maintain the level we needed. There were times when we got off track too easily.

“We struggled to come back, especially our more senior players. They are the ones we need to lead the way and enlighten our young people. They didn’t do that tonight.

Rutten declined to single out individuals but was asked about midfielder Dylan Shiel, whose place in the squad has come under intense scrutiny this season.

“I don’t want to exclude players at the moment, now is not the time,” he said.

“He’s one of our seniors that I mentioned that we need in a game like this that requires us to be ready for the fight, the pressure and the tackles.

“We have some inexperienced players, but the senior guys have to be the ones to put in the work and lead the way. We were way off level.

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