- Jun 27, 2014
- AFL Club
What IS form this year? The whole comp has gone crazy over the first 3 rounds, with one week's big winners knocked off the next by teams that had previously seemed well off the pace. For Essendon - one of only two unbeaten teams - it’s even stranger.. a narrow win over Fremantle, an 80 day gap, a narrow win over the Swans, and then Conor McKenna catches COVID-Lite, wrestles a little with James Stewart and we all have another little lay-off.
In both wins the Bombers jumped out quickly and just held on. In each game, we saw promising periods of cohesive team defence and less reliance on slingshot ball movement from half back, but we also saw the opposition get a roll on at times. It’s fair to question the quality of these victories and the lack of killer instinct, but equally one could just be pleased by the composure shown to grind it out and go home with the 4 points.
Will the week off be the freshen-up we needed after one arduous round in three months? Or is watching Netflix and 1993 prelim highlights all weekend less than ideal prep? We survived a dawn plane ride with North Melbourne and won, so surely we can get up for the old enemy.. right?
Carlton’s form is a good example of 2020 weird. They handed Richmond a five goal start in Round 1, before Melbourne kicked the first 7 in Round 2. On both those occasions the Blues showed fight and enough quality to nearly close the deficit, before going down by 24 points to the Tigers and just 1 to the Demons.
Then they headed down to Kardinia to tackle the Cats who had humiliated the Hawks the week before. Only the most salary-cap-cheating prat would have expected what unfolded.. a complete reversal of the slow start thing, with the Blues 6 goals up by three quarter time and able to see off the charging Cats for a famous win.
Across three games Carlton have shown that their best is very competitive. Their strategy of winning as many wooden spoons as possible seems to finally be paying off and it feels like 2020 could be the year that Carlton is at last a consistently “mediocre to okay” team.
What a very 2020 two weeks it’s been since our last game at the SCG. In addition to the COVID carnage that cost McKenna a return to the side, James Stewart remains only theoretically on the list, and our luckless skipper Dyson Heppell is back in the moon boot. The good news is that Orazio Fantasia scored an extra week to recover from his quad injury and his inclusion hopefully covers the fizz that McKenna would have added.
Let’s talk about stopping the elephant in the room. The Essendon selectors must have thought about how to minimise the impact of Blues gun Patrick Cripps. Surely. Right? The Blues midfield is functioning pretty well but doesn’t bat deep, and Dylan Clarke absolutely dominated Cripps last time we met, holding him to 11 possessions and in the process turning the game in our favour. But Clarke is on the outer and now there’s no clear defensive match up. Leftfield - but could Kyle Langford get the job? Or maybe we just aren’t the tagging type.
Talls are one area that won’t be keeping Bombers selectors up – because we hardly have any to think about. Draper, Daniher, Stewart, Gown, Jones are all on the injured list. The ongoing exclusion of Ambrose is interesting because it leaves the Bombers short if any talls are injured in-game, and perhaps makes it tougher for Hooker to pinch hit forward.
The Blues have their own set of injury concerns with Charlie Curnow, Nic Newman, Paddy Dow, Zac Fisher, Matthew Kruezer and Harry McKay all missing. McKay particularly is a blow as he would have been a difficult match up for the Bombers defence. The Blues are enjoying having the class of co-captain Sam Docherty back in the side, and at this stage they would also be pretty chuffed about the off season recruiting that has added Mark Pittonet, Eddie Betts and Jack Martin.
When you’ve been stinking it up for years you get a very good look at the top end of the draft. Former number 1 pick Jacob Weitering seems to be hitting his straps and by year’s end could be an All-Australian tall defender.
ROUND 11, 2019
ESSENDON BOMBERS 11.8.74
ESSENDON 2.3 5.4 8.5 11.8 (74)
CARLTON 2.2 2.4 4.8 4.9 (33)
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 3, Laverde 2, Parish 2, Baguley 2, Heppell, Langford
Carlton: C.Curnow 2, Kreuzer, McKay
Essendon: Heppell, Parish, Hurley, Guelfi, Clarke, McGrath
Carlton: Kreuzer, Walsh, Dow, Newman, Cuningham
CHANGES SINCE THEN
ESSENDON OUTS: Heppell, Clarke, Guelfi, McKenna, Begley, Baguley, McNeice, Ambrose, Laverde
ESSENDON INS: Shiel, Stringer, Fantasia, Smith, Ridley, Cutler, Townsend, Gleeson, Snelling
CARLTON OUTS: Kreuzer, Newman, C Curnow, Dow, McKay, Marchbank, Fisher, Lang, Kennedy, Stocker, Fasolo
CARLTON INS: Simpson, Jones, Docherty, Murphy, Newnes, Martin, McGovern, Betts, Pittonet, Williamson, Philp
Win and the Bombers could be on top of the ladder with a game in hand. Lose, we come right back to the pack – and worse still, give Carlton bragging rights for a full year. Man, I hate Carlton.
With this wacky build up, anything could happen. I’m hoping that we’ll see a resilient and committed Bombers outfit with enough class to hold off the emerging but inconsistent Blues in a close one.
Bombers by 8.