Bombers Try To Focus On Footy

Picture: Michael Klein/Herald Sun
Jobe Watson was instrumental last start against the Eagles. Image courtesy of Herald Sun/Michael Klein
Last Five Matches

Round 14, 3013 – Essendon 98 d West Coast 91 at Patersons Stadium
Round 7, 2012 – Essendon 113 d West Coast 52 at Etihad Stadium
Round 22, 2011 – West Coast 134 d Essendon 77 at Patersons Stadium
Round 7, 2011 – Essendon 106 d West Coast 90 at Etihad Stadium
Round 16, 2010 – West Coast 132 d Essendon 100 at Etihad Stadium


Form

     Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19   
Essendon    W  W  W  L  L
West Coast   W  L  L  L  W

Where to here for James Hird and his Bombers ? After losing just three games all season, Essendon has now lost two on the trot; a 56-point thumping by Hawthorn followed by yesterday’s humiliating 79-point drubbing by arch rival Collingwood. Even Jobe Watson’s early return from a collarbone injury couldn’t inspire his teammates, and it seems as though the ASADA investigation and the handover of the interim report have finally taken their toll on the playing group.

Carlton’s loss to Fremantle and the possibility of Essendon being docked points have given West Coast renewed hope of sneaking in to the top eight at season’s end. Fortunately the Eagles kicked straight against Gold Coast at the weekend – they were 10.1 at half-time – as the Suns pushed them all the way in the home side’s 17-point win . It was the Eagles’ first win in four starts but they have a very tough finish to the year to come.

West Coast has brought plenty of experience back in with Mark LeCras, Matt Priddis and Chris Masten returning. Essendon will be without speedster Courtenay Dempsey who is out with a hamstring injury while young small forward Cory Dell’Olio has been dropped.


Key Men

(Bombers) Jobe Watson – After missing the previous three weeks with a broken collarbone, inspirational Bombers skipper Jobe Watson returned early last weekend and was just about his side’s best against the Magpies. He finished with 31 touches and six marks, but didn’t have enough willing teammates. The Eagles are well aware of his ability to carry his team; in round 14 he led the charge in the final term, finishing with 29 possessions and two goals as the ‘Dons stormed home to record a seven-point win at Patersons Stadium.

(Eagles) Dean Cox – He was forced to wear No. 46 after having his jumper torn in the first half against the Suns, but it wasn’t a case of Superman losing his cape, with the veteran ruckman still dominating the young Suns in the second half. With Gold Coast tyros Zac Smith and Tom Nicholls out, Cox racked up 44 hit outs, as well as picking up 19 disposals, nine marks and a goal.


Prediction

The Eagles have been awful in Perth this season but respectable on the road. They’re 2-2 in Melbourne and 5-3 on the road, overall. Their two wins in Victoria have come over Melbourne and St Kilda, though, and last start at Etihad Stadium two weeks ago they went down to the Bulldogs by 22 points . As well as Hawthorn and Collingwood have played the past fortnight, it’s hard not to put some of Essendon’s rusty form down to the drugs controversy which continues to swirl around the club. The Bombers had won six straight beforehand, so it has been a dramatic fall from grace. They have four very winnable games to finish the season, but they’re also very loseable games, as well. Essendon by 15 points .

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