Last weekend against Richmond, Essendon allowed Brownlow Medal winner Dustin Martin to run unpatrolled with fatal consequences.
Against Carlton, however, the Bombers wouldn’t make the same mistake with Patrick Cripps.
Enter, Dylan Clarke.
The 20-year-old was handed the seismic task of shutting down the Blues co-captain on Sunday afternoon at the MCG.
Not only did he limit Cripps to 11 touches — his lowest disposal tally of the season — but accumulate 23 disposals, 10 tackles and six clearances of his own as one of Essendon’s most influential players.
It was a performance few saw coming.
But Clarke’s teammate and housemate, Matt Guelfi, wasn’t one of them.
“It was awesome for him to get his opportunity,” Guelfi told foxfooty.com.au .
“I live with Dyl so I was very happy for him. He was outstanding, I knew he could do that.
“Dyl works on his craft every week so it was awesome to see him playing on Paddy Cripps.”
Guelfi’s game was also another positive for the Bombers, who are still in finals contention after defeating Carlton by 41 points.
The West Australian product racked up a season-high 22 disposals, seven tackles and five marks.
Guelfi suggested his form, as well as that of the team, reflected a return to “Essendon footy”.
“Essendon footy is our blitz pressure,” he said.
“Everyone kicks goals, everyone tackles. If one man slips over then the next man steps up.”
One man all Bomber fans anticipate will stand up is draftee Irving Mosquito, who was named as an emergency on Sunday.
The uncapped Mosquito, who has already garnered a cult following, has been lighting up the VFL.
And Guelfi intimated it was only a matter of time before he was “selling candy” to an AFL opposition.
“He’s a very exciting and talented player,” Guelfi said.
“He’ll get his opportunity soon. He’s playing really good VFL footy.”
The Bombers head into the bye with a 5-6 ledger, two spots out of the eight.
A must-win clash against Hawthorn awaits John Worsfold’s side when they return in Round 13, hopefully with the additions of Jake Stringer, Orazio Fantasia and Dylan Shiel.