Training was bad … and so was the match: Hird

While Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss declared his men had regained their mojo, Essendon coach James Hird was left to lament his team’s lack of intensity after the Bombers were stunned by the rejuvenated Lions in a bruising and controversial clash on Saturday.
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Undefeated after six rounds, the Bombers have now suffered back-to-back losses, against Geelong and the Lions, while their last victory, against the winless Greater Western Sydney, was largely a struggle.

They must now try to regain their groove, possibly without concussed forward Michael Hurley, against a threatening Richmond in the ”Dreamtime at the G” clash on Saturday night.

”I thought we lacked intensity in the way we went about our game,” Hird said of the 10-point defeat at Etihad Stadium.

”To a certain point, and I have said that this year, we have played the way we trained. I thought our training on Thursday was pretty disappointing and we went into the game with that sort of intensity.”

Skipper Jobe Watson also put the loss down partly to a sloppy training session and denied the ongoing joint AFL-Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation of the club’s supplement use last season was beginning to take a toll.

”I don’t think so. It has been a challenge for us at different periods but, more specifically, Thursday’s training session was a poor training session,” Watson said.

”I thought the group a week ago was in good spirits going into the Geelong game and hopefully last week was a one-off. Our preparation this week translated into the way we played.

”But for the past seven or eight weeks, I don’t think the investigation and the side things that have happened have had an overly detrimental impact on the playing group.”

The Bombers will monitor Hurley after his day ended early in the first term through a sling tackle by Lions defender Daniel Merrett. It was one of several incidents set to be scrutinised by the match review panel.

Hurley, without the ball, was tackled on the boundary line in the forward pocket and his head crashed into the turf. He was initially subbed out for the 20-minute concussion test, only to be then told his day was over.

Minutes later Justin Clarke crashed into young Bomber Elliott Kavanagh, who required help as he left the field with sore ribs. The incident sparked a scuffle, and the Bombers were awarded a 50-metre penalty, with Watson converting to open his team’s account.

In what was one of the best games of the season, there were 18 lead changes but, in the end, it was a goal by Brent Staker, returning from a knee reconstruction, with 31 seconds left which sealed the win.

It was only the Lions’ third victory of the season, and temporarily eased the pressure on the out-of-contract Voss, who had begun the year well by winning the NAB Cup.

”Probably the most asked question has been – what’s happened since the NAB Cup?” Voss said.

”Well, we did lose our mojo. We have steadily been getting that back. To get that back, you have got to have a playing group that believes in what you are doing.”

Voss said he would not be distracted by contract speculation.

”I reiterate again: there is a job to do. That’s what I am going to do. My focus has not changed off that, the board’s focus has not changed off that, and we will continue to do it until I am told otherwise,” he said.

”But I believe in our guys, I believe in our players. We have got a good group coming through. They are capable of moments like that. I am glad. The work they have done, they have got a little reward.”

Only 25 free kicks were paid, and there were a number of confusing umpiring decisions in what appeared to be a relaxing of the rules on player contact.

This prompted AFL great Leigh Matthews to suggest on 3AW during the second term that B-grade umpires were in charge. The field umpires were Stuart Wenn, Troy Pannell and former Saint Leigh Fisher.

There also was controversy when Lions skipper Jonathan Brown was paid a mark seemingly after the three quarter-time siren, and again when Brown marked between the goal and point posts early in the final term.

Replays indicated Brown had marked behind the line but the video umpire said the footage was ”inconclusive”. The field umpire then awarded Brown the mark, which he converted into a goal.

”Obviously we would have liked it to have been a point but it was given a mark,” Hird said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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