Essendon Rides On Emotion

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Bombers skipper Jobe Watson has started the season well. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Meetings

Round 15, 2012 – St Kilda Saints 133 d Essendon Bombers 62
Round 3, 2011 – Essendon Bombers 136 d St Kilda Saints 84
Round 18, 2010 – Essendon Bombers 108 d St Kilda Saints 75
Round 8, 2010 – Essendon Bombers 93 d St Kilda Saints 81
Round 20, 2009 – Essendon Bombers 110 d St Kilda Saints 108


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3   
St Kilda 

 L

 L

 W

Essendon 

 W

 W

 W


You have to wonder how long Essendon can continue playing with the sort of emotion and intensity the players and coaching staff are producing right now. Friday night’s gutsy come-from-behind win over Fremantle in Perth, when they were down by six straight goals at half-time , will surely go down in the annals as one of the Bombers’ greatest wins. The fact it came amidst calls for coach James Hird to stand aside after further revelations in the drug scandal engulfing the club made it all the more meritorious.

The Bombers will be down on troops when they take on St Kilda on Saturday. Ruckman Patrick Ryder has accepted a three-game suspension for rough conduct after his front-on hit on Luke McPharlin left the Dockers’ backman concussed. Rookie midfielder Nick Kommer was also rubbed out for two weeks after collecting Kepler Bradley with a high bump. Michael Hurley will line up despite coming off the field carrying his wrist at the end of last week’s game, but veteran defender Dustin Fletcher will miss a week with a groin problem.

The Saints have had a relatively soft draw to start the season, taking on the bottom two from last year, as well as Richmond, which despite its rejuvenation this year still hasn’t made the finals since 2001. The win against GWS on Saturday was absolutely vital, and a 34-0 quarter time lead set Scott Watters’ team on their way. It will be interesting to see if the Saints have any special treatment in store for Brendon Goddard , who left St Kilda at the end of last season for Windy Hill.


Key Men

(Saints) David Armitage – Much has been made of the need to develop the younger players on the Saints’ playing list, and David Armitage is one who has stepped up to the mark. 2012 was his best season, yet, and after developing a reputation as a tough-tackling midfielder, the Queenslander is starting to win more of the ball. He was outstanding in Canberra against the Giants with 31 touches, eight marks and four goals. He was quiet the week before against the Tigers, but this match is a chance for him to go toe-to-toe with one of the best midfield brigades in the competition.

(Bombers) Jake Carlisle – For the past 21 seasons, Dustin Fletcher has been a mainstay in Essendon’s backline. But with the 37-year-old surely winding down his career, a young man with just about the same height and weight as Fletcher is set to take his place. Jake Carlisle simply blanketed Freo champion Matthew Pavlich last Friday night in a stunning display of one-on-one defending. Pavlich was held scoreless (for just the sixth time in his past 154 games) and had almost zero influence on the game. That effort came on the back of Carlisle keeping Taylor Walker to three goals in the opening round and Mitch Clark to a single in round two. He and Daniel Talia from the Crows will surely be battling for All-Australian selection for many years to come.


Prediction

Essendon’s hard running has been a feature of its road wins over Adelaide and Fremantle. If they produce the same against a St Kilda outfit a little light on for foot speed, they should be able to get home easily, despite the Saints appearing to find some form late against the Giants. The Saints won last year’s encounter easily by 71 points , but that came after Essendon’s season had started spiralling out of control due to injuries and lack of form. Bombers by 21 points  

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