Last week we were presented with The Essendon Saga, Season 4, Episode 1 – A New Hope.
This week took a different tack, with Season 4, Episode 2 – Essendon Getting their Teeth Thoroughly Kicked In. It was carnage.
Not only were the Dons not playing Carlton, we weren’t getting out traditional 2016 Fifty-Metre Penalties For No Reason but some dingus decided to drop the midfield. I would have stopped watching if I didn’t have this to write.
And this intro is being written at half time, too. We haven’t kicked a goal, and I’d bet Lek’s moustache on us not kicking one in the second half. (Update – sorry Lek. It’s for a good cause.)
But, despite a near full strength Geelong side playing a B team of a B team, there was somehow fantasy relevance in this game. Not much, but still, I’ll take what I can out of that.
Absent Best 22:
Geelong – Joel Selwood, Mitch Clark, Scott Selwood, Daniel Menzel
Essendon – Brendan Goddard, Zach Merrett, David Zaharakis, Matthew Luenhaneneggenburger, Darcy Daniher, Darcy Parish, James Kelly, Matthew Stokes, James Gwilt, Jo Daniher’s moustache, the Essendon 12, Jock Reynolds, Matthew Lloyd, my dog, etc.
Essendon took a very conservative approach, resting their three biggest names in the midfield on a near-40 degree day in Shepparton. Quarters were shortened and breaks were extended, but Geelong still managed to kick three hundred goals.
The big news from this game was on the injury front. While Shaun McKernan and Jayden Laverde both suffered ankle knocks, it was what looks like an ACL to Corey Enright mini-me Jackson Thurlow that was the big news.
Looming as a potential breakout player across the Cats’ half-back line, if it is as bad as first feared, it looks like Jimmy Bartel will be floating across the defensive line for the rest of the season. On top of that, Zac Smith showed he’s not quite over his niggled, finishing on the little ice left in Shepparton at FT.
Happier than a pig in mud. Holy moly did they saunter out loll around. Very much inflated individual performances but hot diggidy damn they look good.
Also looming around the midfield, both Mitch Duncan (21 possies, 135 points) and Josh Caddy (15, 102) collected a lot of the pill, Caddy moving forward at times to end up with 2.1. Duncan looks ripe to break out, but I’ll struggle to run with him until I see him with a Selwood in the side, which won’t be until round 1.
Jimmy Bartel was running around all over the joint during the first half. He wasn’t doing much more than having a casual stroll, but the fact Chris Scott let him roam free was a good sign. However, after Thurlow went down, he spent a lot more time in the back half. 14 disposals, 11 uncontested. Only 61 points but he was blowing out the cobwebs.
The Twin Peaks of Rhys Stanley (74 points) and Zac Smith (105) again impressed, especially against an Essendon side as undersized as this one. Stanley took more of the ruckwork as the game went on, ending with 12 hitouts and 7 disposals, while Smith had 8 hitouts, 10 clearences, and 14 touches. Both ended with a goal apiece, but if you were in blue and white hoops you were guaranteed a goal anyway today.
Lincoln McCarthy has done enough to end up on my bench. He wasn’t overly influential today, but had stints in the middle and was lively enough up forward to suggest he will be a permanent part of this side. 6 touches, 4 tackles, 41 points. Expect more but it should come.
Naika Cockatoo continues to impress, but won’t end up in my side at 170-odd thousand dollarydoos. However, he and many of the Geelong forward line, will be very good CoachKings picks, with Tom Hawkins dominating and finishing with 2.3, 14 touches and 8 strong marks. Similarly, Nathan Vardy had 4 touches from 6 possessions.
Jake Kolodjashnij had 16 disposals at 100% DE, and floated around the half back line. 362k defender ended with 99 Supercoach points. I’ll pass but without Thurlow the question should be asked.
The rest of the Cats’ scores were overinflated due to playing an awful, awful side. If anything stood out to you that I’ve missed, hit me up in the comments!
It wasn’t pretty. As I’ve got to get onto Collingwood vs North Melbourne, I’ll skip all the mid pricers bar one because they were all rubbish. If you were thinking of looking at Jonathan Simpkin, Craig Bird or Orazio Fantasia, yeah nah rub them off the list. 54, 38 and 55 points respectively.
Before we dig into the rookies, Adam Cooney was far and away Essendon’s best player, and looked every bit the Brownlow medallist amongst the Essendon boys. Classy, 15 disposals (10 in the first hald), but a CoachKings pick.
However, if you’re feeling both sneaky and lucky in Supercoach, Mark Baguely captained the side today and stood up. He ran up the ground, looked reasonably composed and tried his heart out. But he only ended up with 10 possies and 71 points, so the scores might not come. Pass.
Right, the meat. Matt Dea stood up without the first choice midfield and collected 12 disposals at 100% DE and 99 points. Watch next week to see his role. Nick Kommer didn’t impress me much, but had it 12 times and looked better than last week for 60. Mitch Brown should be locked, but spent time forward. Michael Hartley can also be safely picked in our backline after showing us 86 points.
Anthony McDonald-Tipunwuti needs another week but looked very good for 80 points. Only concern there is gametime, and I was impressed with Will Hams who had it 13 times in the guts for only 64 points. Connor McKenna had huge runs through the middle and will play nearly every week. He ended with 54, and doesn’t look to score more than that. Both Hams and McKenna are 180-something thousand forward rookies.
Kyle Langford also ran through the guts and really, really impressed me. At 180k FWD moved into serious consideration for me. Started in the middle often and had 11 touches and 6 tackles for 60 points, and will improve with composure around him. However, Sam Grimely had nothing delivered well to him and kicked one solitary goal for 30 Supercoach points. He will have these shockers. We need to be ready for them.
Right. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but onwards to Wagga Wagga!