Bombers On The Brink

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
It has been another tough week for Jobe Watson and the Bombers. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Five Matches

Round 11, 2013 – Essendon 77 d Carlton 72 at MCG
Round 21, 2012 – Carlton 156 d Essendon 60 at MCG
Round 4, 2012 – Essendon 109 d Carlton 79 at MCG
Elimination Final, 2011 – Carlton 149 d Essendon 87 at MCG
Round 18, 2011 – Carlton 153 d Essendon 79 at MCG


Form

     Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21   
Carlton    W  W  L  L  W
Essendon    W  L  L  L  L

Essendon has slumped in the back half of the season over the past couple of years, but nothing as dramatic as this. Any talk that the ASADA investigation hasn’t taken a toll on the Bombers is now out the window after the club suffered its fourth straight loss last weekend, this time a 45-point defeat at the hands of North Melbourne. The ‘Dons have lost those four games by a combined 233 points, and two of those losses came against teams outside the top eight (Eagles and Kangaroos).

While the Bombers are firmly entrenched inside the eight, Carlton has the slightest sniff of playing in September. Port Adelaide is two games ahead in eighth, but if the Blues beat Essendon and Power can’t upset Fremantle in Perth, then the last spot in the finals will come down to the final round clash between Carlton and Port. After losing two straight at Etihad Stadium to the Dockers and Bulldogs, Carlton revelled in its return to the MCG knocking off the in-form Tigers by 10 points to keep their season alive.

After another week from Hell, the Bombers have made a stack of changes, headlined by the return of big men Patrick Ryder and Michael Hurley. Dyson Heppell is out with an ankle injury while Tom Bellchambers has been dropped. Carlton welcomes back ruckman Matthew Kreuzer who comes in for re-signed defender Josh Bootsma, who was given a lesson early on by Jack Riewoldt last week.


Key Men

(Blues) Brock McLean – In a team which seems to lack players up for a fight, Brock McLean is a standout for his ability to do the dirty work. He’s unfashionable and has limited athletic ability, but the former Demon can find the football and is prepared to work harder thansome of his teammates. He racked up 27 disposals, six marks, seven tackles and three goals and his move forward after the Blues were smashed in the opening term was one of the turning points, along with Jarrad Waite’s move into defence.

(Bombers) Stewart Crameri – An ankle injury has restricted him in the second half of the season, but right now Essendon needs a fit and firing Stewart Crameri . Since going down against West Coast, he hasn’t booted a goal in matches against GWS and the Kangaroos, compared to 28 majors in 12 goals prior to the injury. A big money offer is apparently on the table from the Western Bulldogs, but Essendon’s leading goalkicker the past two seasons needs to start repaying his current club now.


Prediction

The last three years in the home and away season, Essendon has been unceremoniously thumped by Carlton in a late season contest. Last year the Blues won by 96 in round 21, in 2011 the margin was 74 points in round 18, and the previous season it was 76 in round 19. Much like the previous couple of campaigns, Essendon looks like crashing and burning at the wrong end of the season, although there is an extraordinary set of circumstances this time around. Carlton’s form was ordinary coming in to the clash with Richmond last weekend, but with Chris Judd out and their season on the line, the Blues finally turned it on. If the Bombers couldn’t muster a form reversal when the players, at least, we’re somewhat cleared last week, then it’s hard to see anything different coming out of Windy Hill this weekend. Carlton by 33 points .

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