Thomas shines for depleted Roos in loss to Dons

A depleted North Melbourne Kangaroos have gone down to Essendon by 29 points at Windy Hill on Sunday afternoon.

The Roos finished with no players on the bench after injuries and unavailabilities didn’t allow fresh legs in the second half.

Some late changes in the AFL line-up saw Roo Phoenix Spicer withdrawn just before the bounce, while Josh Goater was pulled at half-time due to being the carryover for the seniors.

The Roos were down to an empty bench after Cooper Smith was taken to hospital for a shoulder injury, while recruit Tom Williamson couldn’t take further part due to a head knock. Charlie Comben was also taken off late in his return to play due to his long layoff.

Despite the visitors bursting out of the blocks to lead at quarter-time, the Dons took control from there to win 11.8 (74) to 6.9 (45).

In some positive news for the Roos, Tarryn Thomas was a shining light in his first game back from several weeks of personal leave.

Thomas looked a class above from the first bounce and had 20 disposals, five clearances and three tackles by half-time, before finishing with 27 touches.

VFL stalwarts Harry Jones and Dom Tyson again starred for the Roos with 27 disposals and 23 respectively.

Kyron Hayden finished with 10 disposals in his return from a groin injury, while Comben had one behind from four disposals in his comeback game.

Brad Bernacki was the Bombers’ best with his 28-disposal, three-goal effort, while Tom Cutler had 36 disposals.

BOMBERS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats

Interim coach Tom Lynch said he was disappointed with how the game finished.

“What was really pleasing was the first half and how we started the game,” he said.

“The way we were playing was a really strong brand which was certainly holding us in the contest.

“We finished the game with no players on the bench and just two after half-time so we ran out of legs, that was the tale of the day.

“Even though that was the case, we certainly were beaten around the contest as the game went on and especially in that second half. Essendon made us defend and tired us out.”

Lynch praised his midfield brigade’s efforts, especially Thomas in his impressive return to footy.

“‘Taz’ (Thomas) was really strong for us today,” he said.

“His contest work was really important for us. His ability to break the lines and get penetration, both through his legs but also his ball use, you certainly saw the quality he has.

“I thought Harry Jones was fantastic for us today, Dom (Tyson) was fantastic in there, ‘Ronny’ (Hayden) played his first time in the midfield and provided some great grunt in there.

“We had some really solid contributors around the ground but we just weren’t able to capitalise.”

Due to the lack of rotations, Lynch said Hayden was forced to play more minutes than the Roos had planned for.

“There was always going to be a domino effect, so he had to play a lot more and he battled through like we do know,” Lynch said.

“It was really pleasing he was able to get through the game. He felt OK as well, but now it’s about how he recovers in the medical room.”

Despite a quiet outing from Comben, Lynch was just happy the big man got through unscathed in his first game since knee surgery.

“It was a tough day for forwards,” Lynch said.

“The pleasing thing is that he was able to get through the game … he played a lot more game time than anticipated based on our rotations.

“He always provides a great contest for us ahead of the ball and really straightens us up.

“It was really pleasing to have him back, although I know he would have wanted to make a stronger contribution, but I know that’s not far away because of the quality player he is.

“I look forward to him playing some really good footy in the coming weeks.”

ESSENDON 3.0 5.2 9.7 11.8 (74)
4.2 4.5 6.6 6.9 (45)

Essendon: Bernacki 3, Baldwin 2, Voss 2, Bryan, Conforti, Ham, Waterman
North Melbourne:
Answer 2, Mitchell-Russell, Beattie, Watkins, Ford

Essendon: Bernacki, Bryan, Cutler, Cootee, Atley, Ham
North Melbourne:
Thomas, Jones, Tyson, Bosenavulagi, Ford

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