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Key Don's strong return

Ben Guthrie afl.com.au  March 17, 2017 10:55 PM

BTV: Cale Hooker Interview We caught up with Essendon forward Cale Hooker after his VFL practice match.

Essendon's Cale Hooker has passed his final fitness test and looks set to face Hawthorn in round one, after getting through Friday night's VFL practice match against Geelong.

Cats midfielders Steven Motlop and Cameron Guthrie also got through the game unscathed, all but ensuring they will be ready to line up against Fremantle at Domain Stadium next Sunday.

Hooker, playing his first competitive match of the pre-season after overcoming a hamstring tendon injury, booted two first-quarter goals and hauled in a bunch of pack marks in an impressive stint up forward. 

The big West Australian declared he was available for selection in the Bombers' blockbuster season-opener against the Hawks at the MCG next Saturday.

Speedy forward Josh Green, returning from a minor foot injury, booted four goals to push his claims for a spot in the Bombers' forward line against Hawthorn.

Motlop (21 disposals) and Guthrie (19) were among the Cats' leading ball winners on the night, and stood out as the only senior-listed Geelong players on Simonds Stadium. 

Essendon big man Tom Bellchambers, playing on reduced minutes, used his height to advantage up forward and in the ruck, taking a number of marks around the ground and in attack. 

Bellchambers is short of match practice after having knee surgery in January, but the Bombers will be eager for him to return to the team early this season with Matthew Leuenberger (hamstring) sidelined.

Aaron Francis, who has been limited by an ankle injury in the pre-season, also looked dangerous up forward and took a number of athletic marks. 

Experienced Dons Heath Hocking and Ben Howlett were solid rotating between the midfield and up forward.

 

The Bombers won the match by 29 points.