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Bombers blast past North Ballarat

Mason Redman and Yestin Eades receive instruction during the break.

Essendon has registered its first win of the VFL season in style, running away with an 85-point victory over North Ballarat at Bendigo’s Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night.

The Bombers controlled the game from the outset, eventually winning 18. 16. 124 to the Roosters 5. 9. 39.

A host of players staked their claim for senior selection next week with everyone contributing in the win.

Essendon’s intent to bounce back from their round one loss was evident in the first term, dominating the early passages of play without showing it on the scoreboard. 

The Roosters forward forays were few and far between, as the Dons eventually found reward for their efforts with goals through Ryan Crowley, Shaun McKernan and the captain Daniel Coghlan to open up a lead that was never challenged.

The forward line of McKernan, Crowley and Sam Grimley, was complemented by the pace and creativity from the likes of Jackson Merrett, Yestin Eades and Shaun Edwards.  It proved too hard to contain for the Roosters as the Bombers stretched the lead to 40 points by the first change.  

The Roosters stepped up in the second term, with the Bombers free running style of play grinding to a crawl. The Bombers defence was under siege but to their credit, starved the Roosters for any easy shots on goal.

Eades was able to convert a long goal to extend the lead early in the second, but highlights were rare as the Dons advantage was cut to 35 points at the long interval.

Early third quarter goals from Mason Redman, Merrett, Edwards and the returning Courtenay Dempsey put the result beyond doubt. The floodgates blew open for the Dons, slamming on nine goals to one, the highlight being a quick snap over the shoulder from Jake Long.

Will Hams gathered 21 touches in his best on ground performance and was rewarded with a classy goal early in the final quarter, while McKernan, clearly the best big man on the ground, capped off his great night kicking his third major.

Jonathon Simpkin was solid with 25 possessions and Crowley looked particularly dangerous up forward, finding the ball on 23 occasions. Merrett and James Polkinghorne each had 21 while Dempsey gathered 20 touches.

Dempsey, floating across half back and through the middle, combined with defenders Aaron Heppell and Sam Michael who were both outstanding.

Essendon Assistant Coach Dan Jordan said it was a good response from the boys after a disappointing round one loss.

“To come out and play pretty much four quarters was a credit to them, we were challenged a little bit in the second quarter but came away with a good win which is exciting,” Jordan said.

“I think it was our work rate which dropped off in that second quarter, the message at half time was to come out and be really strong in that area and we thought the guys responded accordingly and it proved on the scoreboard.

“A lot of guys played their role and weren’t necessarily standing out; to put in a team effort like that, that’s what we need to do. We didn’t have any passengers.”

A number of players have put their case forward for senior selection according to Jordan.

“It’s really good to have guys putting their hands up and putting pressure on the senior group, it shows the footy club is heading in the right direction,” he said.

“I thought Will Hams in the middle was fantastic, Sam Michael down back was good and those guys on the outside Redman, Eades, Dempsey back in the side, they just gave us some run that we really needed and that helped up with our ball movement.

“McKernan is just a really powerful target for us and he is pretty hard to stop at VFL level. He will stake his claim to go up again; it’s great to see him performing at this level.”

The Bombers made it through the game with no injury concerns, despite some sore bodies.