Giants Prepare For Bombing Raid

Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au/Getty Images
David Zaharakis was a standout in the ANZAC Day clash. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au/Getty Images
Previous Meeting

Round 9, 2012 – Essendon Bombers 119 d GWS Giants 53 (Skoda)


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3       Rd 4       Rd 5   
Essendon   W  W  W  W  W
GWS Giants   L  L  L  L  L

Last week the Bombers had a chance to prove they’re among the AFL’s elite in the ANZAC Day clash with Collingwood; they took it. On Saturday, GWS had a big opportunity to record its first win of the season against fellow newbies the Suns; they didn’t even get close. It says a lot about the respective positions these teams find themselves in coming in to their round 6 clash at Etihad Stadium.

James Hird’s team has faced plenty of adversity on and off the field in 2013, and the ‘Dons have passed every test with flying colours. Not even the absence of bookends Dustin Fletcher and Michael Hurley could stop them running away with Thursday’s blockbuster against the Magpies. Those two will rest another week while Dyson Heppell is out with a groin problem while Jake Carlisle won’t play due to an ankle problem.

The Giants really struggled to find a match-up for Charlie Dixon last week with Bret Thornton and Tim Mohr both getting burnt by the Suns forward who kicked six goals. The Bombers have even more marking options in the forward 50 and it’s almost impossible to see GWS keeping them quiet over four quarters unless they really stifle the supply coming in from the midfield. Their job has been made harder at both ends of the ground with co-captain Phil Davis set to miss six weeks with a back problem while Setanta O’hAilpin is out with a calf injury. Overall No. 1 draft pick Lachie Whitfield is also resting due to general soreness.


Key Men

(Bombers) David Zaharakis – He isn’t the biggest name in Essendon’s midfield, but David Zaharakis is starting to look every bit as important as the likes of Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton. He was in red-hot form last season before a quad injury forced him to spend three months on the sidelines, then a recurrence of the same injury pre-season left him behind the eight ball fitness-wise compared to his teammates. His performances have built up over the first five rounds, culminating in his ANZAC medal-winning performance against the ‘Pies last Thursday. He amassed 34 touches and nailed four goals in his best-on-ground effort, and with teams unlikely to send a tagger his way, he’ll have plenty of chances to rack up the stats this season.

(Giants) Rhys Palmer – Every now and again Rhys Palmer does something which reminds you why he won the Rising Star award back in 2008 with Fremantle. Just ten minutes in to the clash with the Suns, Palmer found the ball in the forward pocket, found space despite the attention of a couple of defenders, then snapped a wonderful goal. It’s frustrating to watch because he has plenty of natural talent, but being a senior player on the Giants’ list, he needs to lift his work-rate and find the ball more to be of value to his younger teammates. He could do worse than look at a player from the same draft who took a little longer to develop, inaugural Giants Best and Fairest winner Callan Ward .


Prediction

Again the Giants were unable to run out a game as the Suns booted eight goals to four in the final term to blow the final margin out to 44 points on Saturday. GWS has only played twice at Etihad and those games ended with Carlton victorious by 67 points and St Kilda handing out a 128-point thumping in round 22 last season. Their losing streak now stands at nine games. The Bombers, on the other hand, have been sensational in winning five straight. Yes, Essendon allowed Melbourne to break its duck in round 10 last year, but it’s highly unlikely even the great Kevin Sheedy would be able to conjure up a game plan to stop his old club in this sort of mood. Bombers by 69 points

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