The Scots have a word – dreich. A dreich day is a grey, gloomy day and they have a lot of them.
Launceston had one yesterday which was unfortunate because it was hosting the elimination final between Essendon and the Bulldogs.
The rain, when it came midway through the first term, was not a downpour. It was a persistent drizzle that made both the ball and the playing surface slippery. Up until then, Essendon were impressive, playing with precision and purpose, were calm and unhurried in their decision-making.
Darcy Parish in particular impressed, showing class and poise off both sides of his body.
The Dogs are professional and tough but they struggled early. Tom Liberatore cracked in, the sound of one of his bodily collisions carried to the grandstand, but the early signs were not good. For the Dogs to be dominant, their midfield has to be on top, and here they were struggling to break even. Fortunately for the Dogs, ruckman Tim English performed well in this phase, with a series of strong marks.
It was a game where individuals had periods where they played well and materially influenced the course of the match. Marcus Bontempelli had his in the second term, but the player who split it open for the Dogs was miniscule firecracker forward Cody Weightman.
Weightman is smart, skilful and up for big challenges. His two goals in two minutes in the third term gave the Dogs their first real break of the match. Up until then Essendon had done the bulk of the scoring but suffered from inaccuracy.
It was a match which brimmed with consequences that went beyond the fact that it was an elimination final. The Dogs won a fabled flag in 2016 but hadn’t won a final since. History was starting to weigh heavily on Bevo’s boys. What was more, they won in ’16 by engendering a special closeness among players. Then one of those players, the mercurial and enigmatic Jake Stringer, was ejected from the kennel and landed at Essendon.