Had Essendon’s valiant AFL performance against Melbourne come up short, the finger would be pointed at Joe Daniher.
His goalkicking on Saturday at the MCG was terrible – 2.4 and two out on the full.
But everything else the Bombers key forward did was outstanding.
Daniher took a whopping 15 marks – seven of them contested – and was best afield as Essendon upset the Demons by 13 points.
His second goal also sparked the Bombers’ three-goal surge in the last quarter that won them the game.
Daniher headlined outstanding performances on Saturday from Essendon’s younger players, particularly Zach Merrett and newcomer Darcy Parish.
Whatever the challenges that are sure to come this year for Essendon’s makeshift team, the future looks bright.
Coach John Worsfold noted Daniher persisted, regardless of his misfiring radar.
“What I liked about Joe’s game is he didn’t then start not wanting to have the next shot at goal,” Worsfold said.
“He kept demanding the footy and presenting for us.
“The fact he was having shots was just as critical because the marks he took to have shots at goal meant they didn’t get it to ground and run it out.
“So even though he missed those shots, you can’t underestimate (what) the impact of contest marks inside your forward 50 does for your team.
“I was really pleased he wanted to stay on the ground, he wanted to keep being the target and he wanted to keep having shots on goal.”
Essendon already knew they had a special player in Merrett, while Parish is showing that pick No.5 in the draft last November was warranted.
“It’s pretty exciting, watching him get around the footy and the impact he has on contests,” Worsfold said.
“He’s only lightly-framed but I think he was hanging off (ruckman) Max Gawn once and got him to ground.
“You just think, well, that kid is tenacious and competitive and very talented as well.
“It’s a pretty handy mix to have for a young man like that.”