Essendon has completed its first practice match against VFL opponents, falling by five points to Sandringham on Friday at RSEA Park.

The game marked the VFL Bombers’ second practice match ahead of the 2024 season, following on from their trip to Darwin in January to face the NTFL Buffaloes.

This time around, the Dons were boosted by the inclusions of seven AFL-listed players who rotated through the lineup at different stages of the contest.

Among them was forward Jayden Davey, who made a long-awaited return to the field after 922 days away from the game through two separate ACL injuries.

Davey competed well alongside twin brother Alwyn Jnr, who played out the first half with Nick Hind and Nick Bryan following on from the AFL game earlier in the afternoon.

Draftee Archie Roberts looked promising in his first competitive game, booting two goals in a more advanced role and accumulating plenty of the footy in dangerous positions.

The Dons stayed afloat on the scoreboard through classy efforts from Oskar Smartt and Jack Peris, as well as a crafty two-goal display from NGA prospect Amin Naim.

Sandringham broke away to a two-goal buffer in the third term, but despite a late flurry of attacks the Dons fell just short, the siren sounding as they made their final venture forward.

Essendon will take a lot away from their hit-out, with the VFL season now less than a month away from opening.

SANDRINGHAM     5.1     5.3     9.10     9.10 (64)
ESSENDON      2.0     6.4     7.4     9.5 (59)