Essendon Bombers v West Coast Eagles; Fremantle Dockers v Gold Coast Suns scores, results, fixtures, teams, tips, games, how to watch

Bull Durham

Essendon’s most obvious improvement this season has been through Sam Durham, who has developed into a dynamic, match-changing midfielder.

He was vital in the third quarter as the Eagles threatened to take the lead and the Bombers looked for a spark. Durham won two takedowns from center right after the Eagles kicked goals and also won a key ground ball in the third quarter that led to Jake Stringer kicking his fifth goal.

Sam Durham in action for the Bombers AFL Photos via Getty Images

His efforts went against the grain as Zach Merrett, though good, dealt with a tag while Jayden Hunt also restricted Andy McGrath. Durham becomes the star Essendon have been looking for in recent seasons to back up Merrett when he is tagged.

He was also part of the chain of handballs and throws that led to Caldwell’s game-clinching goal as the Eagles came close and then finished the game with a goal and 29 disposals in the career.

Stringer reliability at its finest

Jake Stringer had a chance to make it six goals for the first time since he was with the Bulldogs in 2015. His set-piece fell short but it was the only blemish on an otherwise excellent game from the veteran forward, who now scored 29 goals for the season.

It wasn’t the exposed mercurial Stringer. Did all the basics well, finding space inside the forward 50 and for the most part hitting with precision. His fifth goal was vital as it extended the lead beyond 10 points as the Eagles closed in.

He played within his limits and is an obvious reason for the Bombers’ improvement in 2024. He also had good support from Nate Caddy (a late inclusion for Todd Goldstein) who was impressive in the second game, kicking two goals and taking a big part. grade in the third quarter.

Ryan flies as Eagles running back Oscar Allen

Liam Ryan was outstanding for the Eagles who moved into midfield in the absence of Tim Kelly and Harley Reid. He won three clearances from centre, with his pace in front of the stops causing Essendon problems and giving Elliott Yeo a teammate running in support.

Liam Ryan of the Eagles. AFL Photos via Getty Images

However, Ryan didn’t stop there, using his pace to harass the Bombers’ midfielders while his jump never left him as he continued to make marks and finished with a career-high 19 touches.

It gives the Eagles another string to their bow as Ryan has quick feet and knows how to find space on the perimeter for a stopper. The return of Oscar Allen was also a good sight for the eager eyes of Adam Simpson. The key forward struggled early as he struggled to find his touch, but showed his class in the third quarter and finished with nine points and 10 mark involvements.

Unfortunately, he gave 2.4 for the match, but he will improve quickly. The Eagles look a lot better with him at one end and Tom Barrass, who grabbed nine interceptions at the other end.