AFL 2 years ago

"Better half of football that I've ever played"

  • "Better half of football that I've ever played"

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Orazio Fantasia of the Bombers celebrates after kicking a goal during the round 13 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Etihad Stadium on June 19, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Former Geelong premiership player and current Essendon small forward Mathew Stokes has played a lot of football. 197 games to be exact. Two of those premierships. But he has given his team-mate Orazio Fantasia one of the biggest compliments you can receive.

"I've played for 11 years and I've never had a half like that," Stokes told post-match.

"Some of the stuff he was doing … the pressure he was putting on, his work rate, the goals, the kick off the ground, his assists – he was awesome.

"He worked really hard to get on the end of a few, but what was really important was all the other opportunities and space he created just with his movement and his pace and his determination to get to a contest. He drew defenders too him, which opened it up for his teammates.

"The role of small forward is the hardest role to play because you can be out of the play. Most of the time, you only get rewarded only when you put in the effort with the tackling pressure and defence, and he was fantastic in those areas."

Fantastia kicked an equal game high four goals, but could have easily had eight goals, missing a number of set shots throughout the match, finishing with four goals, four behinds. 

Unfortunately for Fantasia, he received a heavy knock late in the third quarter with GWS Giants defender Nick Haynes and struggled to get back into the game when the game was on the line.Coach John Worsfold was rapt with the performance and the progression of the third year utility.

"As a small forward, to have that many shots at goal in a half is really exciting for us," Worsfold said in his post-match press conference.

"That's the first game where we've got the ball forward with that sort of volume (and) he's been threatening.

"In games where we've only gone forward 30-odd times, he's been getting two or three shots at goal.

"And with Joe Daniher as well, those guys are holding up under very limited supply. They got more supply tonight and they were very good contributors."

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