Essendon Bombers vs Brisbane Lions
Saturday March 17th, 3.30pm.
Visy Park

The second match of Saturday’s double-header at Visy Park sees the Bombers take on the Brisbane Lions in week four of the NAB Cup.

Both teams are coming off impressive wins, with Essendon holding on to defeat a surging Sydney Swans by two points, while the Lions gave Carlton a 64-point thumping at Maroochydore.

The Bombers were ultra-impressive in their two point win in what proved to be the most compelling game of week three of the NAB Cup. After leading by as much as 30 points in the third quarter, Essendon conceded eight straight goals to be down by 11 in the last, yet steadied to win in a game that saw 14 lead changes.

The Bombers’ quick ball movement out of the backline – on the back of impressive games by Brett Stanton and Courtney Dempsey, both in their first games back for the season – made for some smooth ball transition that would trouble most defences.

The quick play-on style was almost Geelong-esque at times, yet while the Cats rely more on skill and brawn at ground level to bully the ball forward, the Bombers had slight and speedy ground runners linking up with mobile talls straining the Swans defenders, with Michael Hurley and Stewart Crameri chiming in with two goals apiece.

The laconically brilliant Paddy Ryder made kicking four goals look like the easiest thing in the world, as he found himself in acres of space with superbly timed leads and leaps, while Jobe Watson capped off a crucial captain’s knock of 27 possessions with the game-sealing goal when some composure was required.

This week the Bombers welcome rookie-listed Cory Dell’Olio and dangerous forward Sam Lonergan into their squad of 25.

Brisbane were able to plug some of the big gap that Jonathan Brown’s absence left in their forward 50.

The Lions booted nine goals and kept the Blues scoreless in the second half of their Maroochydore clash, with the unlikely twin towers of defender Daniel Merrett and midfielder Tom Rockliff kicking three goals apiece in the 64-point win.

Top ten draft pick Billy Longer played himself into round one calculations, rucking most of the game and kicking two goals, while his ruck partner Matthew Leuenberger also chimed in with a six-pointer.

Youngsters Jess O’Brien and Claye Beams nabbed a pair of goals each, helped by a dominant second-half by the Lions midfield, with old-stager Simon Black starring with 31 touches.

Veteran Ash McGrath will be rested this week for the Lions, while Rohan Bewick, Rohan Harwood and rookie Jack Crisp chip in to the 25-man Brisbane squad.

In the last chance tune-up and match fitness opportunity before the season proper James Hird has called for more consistency from his team, pulling out the “four-quarter effort” chestnut in the wake of last week. Michael Voss will use this week to get his early-season Brown-less forward-line in place, and also called upon his centre-men to improve, noting “I think it’s time for our midfield group to be able to start doing things”.


4. Jobe Watson, 5. Brent Stanton, 6. Angus Monfries, 7. Leroy Jetta, 10. Mark McVeigh, 11. David Zaharakis, 12. Stewart Crameri, 14. Sam Lonergan, 15. Courtenay Dempsey, 16. Tayte Pears, 17. Jake Melksham, 18. Michael Hurley, 19. David Hille, 21. Dyson Heppell, 23. David Myers, 26. Cale Hooker, 30. Patrick Ryder, 31. Dustin Fletcher, 32. Travis Colyer, 34. Kyle Hardingham, 39. Heath Hocking, 40. Ben Howlett, 43. Michael Hibberd, 44. Tom Bellchambers, 47. Cory Dell’Olio

Brisbane Lions

2. Ryan Harwood, 3. Sam Sheldon, 4. Jared Polec, 5. Billy Longer, 7. Jed Adcock, 10. Daniel Rich, 11. Pearce Hanley, 17. Claye Beams, 18. Todd Banfield, 20. Simon Black, 21. Daniel Merrett, 23. Matthew Leuenberger, 24. Joel Patfull, 28. Patrick Karnezis, 30. Jack Redden, 31. James Polkinghorne, 32. Cheynee Stiller, 34. Jesse O’Brien, 35. Ryan Lester, 36. Matt Maguire, 38. Tom Rockliff, 40. Niall McKeever, 41. Mitchell Golby, 43. Rohan Bewick, 47. Jack Crisp

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