Essendon VFL has come back from a slow start to overcome Sandringham by six goals in its final practice match at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

With wind, heavy rain and even hail wreaking havoc at times, the Bombers fought hard to record the 11.10 (76) to 5.10 (40) result on Saturday afternoon.

The home side had all the control in the first quarter, leaving defenders Michael Hartley and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher to work overtime under attack.

Vice-captain Heath Hocking kicked a much-needed major at the start of the second term, with Essendon going on to kick five unanswered goals.

The second half saw both sides go hard at the footy in a tight contest, but it was the Bombers who had all the momentum.

Sandringham managed to cut the margin back late, but Essendon had done more than enough to hold on as 36-point victors.

Irving Mosquito (two goals), in his first game in the red and black, provided a ton of excitement with his closing speed and ability to weave in and out of traffic.

Vice-captain Danny Younan (two goals) was influential up forward, while talls Sam Draper and Zac Clarke also competed well around the ground.

Coach Dan Jordan was pleased with how Essendon responded to the challenge.

“We were beaten around the contest in that first quarter and weren’t playing the way we wanted to play, but after quarter-time our intensity around the contest went up significantly,” Jordan said.

“I thought our defenders were outstanding all day, keeping Sandringham to just five goals, and then our forwards started to compete and bring the ball to ground.”

Jordan described the lift in pressure around the contest as a catalyst for the rest of the game.

He also had praise for those who filled the void after losing Wilson Berry, Zerk-Thatcher, Trent Mynott and Jayden Laverde all to injury early.

“I thought Irving Mosquito in his first game looked really sharp, while Nino Lazzaro, Danny Younan, Heath Hocking and Aaron Heppell as our leaders really stood up.

“Noah Gown was also outstanding as a forward, competing in the conditions and bringing the ball to ground to give us some opportunities to score.

“Sam Draper again was incredible, but collectively I think everyone picked up some slack – it was great to see some guys get an opportunity that they may not get for a while.”

Essendon VFL will officially kick off its 2019 campaign against Frankston on Sunday, April 7 from 2pm at Skybus Stadium.

Essendon 0.1 6.6 8.7 11.10 (76)

Sandringham 2.5 3.5 4.7 5.10 (40)

Goals: Mosquito 2, Younan 2, Hocking, Ham, Brown, Z. Clarke, Gown, Houlahan, Lazzaro.

Brooke Varney is in the final year of her Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) degree at RMIT University. As part of their strategic partnership, Essendon Football Club and RMIT University are committed to providing opportunities for students, staff, players and the wider community.