Bombers happy to grind out ugly AFL win

Essendon's AFL win over Freemantle wasn't pretty, but Bombers coach John Worsfold will take it.
Essendon's AFL win over Freemantle wasn't pretty, but Bombers coach John Worsfold will take it.

Sometimes an AFL game is simply about securing the premiership points without worrying too much about impressing the fans.

Essendon's arduous seven-point win over Fremantle was one of those times.

Staring down the barrel of four straight losses, the Bombers were locked in a grim, error-riddled struggle before holding on for 8.12 (60) to 7.11 (53) win at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

Star recruit Dylan Shiel booted two late goals, his first for the club, during a pressure-packed final term, but the Dockers stormed home with the last three goals only to fall agonisingly short.

A loss for John Worsfold's men would have widened the gap with the league's top echelon to an alarming degree.

But as ugly as it was, the Bombers held on to fight another day in the hope of a brighter, more aesthetically pleasing, future.

"We've had three pretty tight, tough games in the last month ... we've lost a couple of them and it's nice to win one that is just a tight arm-wrestle," Worsfold said.

"I think we'll keep growing from that.

"Our best footy's ahead of us, there's no doubt about that, and we've got to stay focused on that. We're not at the level we want to be at.

"We'll keep working really hard at that and when it comes, it'll come in a real rush and we'll see it."

Not much separated the sides in the often dour contest in front of 29,176 fans, but the hosts looked to have secured the points when they opened up a game-high 26-point lead in the last quarter.

But with under eight minutes remaining, Michael Walters' goal from a contentious free kick was followed by a major to Jesse Hogan.

Then Brandon Matera set up a frantic final three minutes with his second goal of the night.

Both sides were frustratingly inaccurate in front of goal in pristine conditions, but Fremantle's inability to make better use of six more inside 50s concerned coach Ross Lyon.

"Our efficiency is a real concern because it's becoming a pattern," Lyon said.

"I thought our effort for most of the night was there. We certainly had entries but we've got to fine-tune our method, really.

"I can't keep talking about how we need to get better in that area.

"The starting point is we're getting entries, and we're getting the ball back centre-forward.

"Typically, that's the signature of a good AFL team and we think it is still, but we've got to get efficient with those opportunities.

"It's as simple as that."

Australian Associated Press