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Essendon will not play finals if style does not change says Cameron Mooney, Brad Scott press conference

Essendon coach Brad Scott concedes his side was “not direct enough” during its loss to the Western Bulldogs as triple premiership forward Cameron Mooney declared the Bombers “will not play finals footy” if they continued to play so conservatively.

The Bombers on Friday night were humbled by a tougher and slicker Bulldogs outfit, going down by 41 points in a potentially costly hit to their finals hopes.

While both teams finished the match with 49 inside 50s, the Bombers were +44 for uncontested marks yet the Dogs had 11 more scoring shots and won the time in forward half count 52 per cent to 48.

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And as highlighted on Fox Footy post-game, 107 of Essendon’s 136 marks on Friday night were taken in their defensive half.

Scott post-game said the high volume of defensive-half marks was an anomaly, pointing out his side was one of the league’s better ball movement teams.

“We thought we weren’t direct enough. We were slow out of the back-half,” Scott told reporters post-game.

Kyle Langford of the Bomber. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“I think our ball movement out of the back-half has been pretty good this year. If you look at the numbers, we’re a pretty good team in that space. But to the Bulldogs’ credit they were able to stifle that to a certain extent.

“We did make some changes, but it didn’t really translate to enough forward-half pressure.”

Scott added that his forward line “didn’t look dangerous enough”.

But speaking on Fox Footy Live, Mooney said Scott couldn’t blame his forwards for the team’s lack of dare and dash during the game.

“Mark my words, you will not play finals football if that’s how you’re going to play,” Mooney told Fox Footy Live.

“He talked about their forward line ‘not looking dangerous’ – you can’t look dangerous when you’re switching side to side in your back half, your forwards are running from one side to the other … if you’re a forward, that is a horrible way for your team to play.

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“Everything was backwards and sideways … 30 marks in your forward half? That is horrendous.

“I just thought it was a really horrible way to play.”

Triple All-Australian Nick Dal Santo said the Bombers’ high-mark game allowed a Bulldogs defence, which has been exposed multiple times this season, feel comfortable.

“This is against a team in the Dogs that have been inconsistent in defence, have looked unorganised at times but ultimately just haven’t got the job done,” Dal Santo told Fox Footy Live.

“What puts that group under pressure is ball movement and speed and forcing the defence into multiple decisions.

“If you go slow … the opposition’s defence looks brilliant because they have time to get set up.”

Triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown added: “I don’t think Brad Scott would have said ‘let’s chip it around in the back half’ – that wouldn’t have been the instruction. So it’s a leadership thing out there.”

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