Returning forward Jake Stringer was among 11 senior-listed Bombers who featured in a VFL practice match against Box Hill at the NEC Hangar on Saturday.

While the 9.9 (63) to 17.9 (111) result didn’t go the Bombers’ way, the hitout allowed VFL senior coach Leigh Tudor to trial more players as he looks to finalise his list before the season opener against the Brisbane Lions on April 17.

“We’re still trialling players for our list. Last week (against Richmond VFL) we trialled a lot of Bendigo Pioneers kids, and this week we trialled a lot of under-19s from Calder Cannons. We can use Cannons and Pioneers kids on our list this season,” Tudor said.

“We’ve also been trialling just the VFL players, so the last two weeks we’ve played about 20 different players who are fighting for list spots. A few guys have really jumped out and put their hands up to be on our list.”

“The next three weeks we’re going to be building up to round one.”

The VFL Bombers are set to regain stalwart Danny Younan in this week’s practice match against Footscray at the NEC Hangar (match details TBC), while new signings Kyle Dunkley (AC joint) and Joe Atley (injured) are expected to return before round one.

See Tudor’s review of each senior-listed Bomber below.

Jake Stringer 

“Jake got to play 60 minutes and came off about halfway through the third quarter with a couple of rests in each quarter. He played a bit of mid and a bit of forward and did everything that was required of him in a fitness sense. He worked really hard on the ground, kicked a couple of goals and laid a couple of big tackles. He did half an hour of running after the game as well, so he’s just on a progression to get fit for AFL football.”

Archie Perkins

“Perkins played midfield mainly. He won a lot of his own ball and got tagged after half-time, but still found lots of the ball in the second half. He made good decisions, was very explosive and similar to last week, has fitted in very well to the way we want to play. We’ve just got to get the balance right of playing him forward and in midfield.”

Lachlan Johnson 

“It was great for Lachie. He got 60 minutes this week after having 40 last week. He played as a forward and laid a couple of big tackles, which showed his intent to defend for us. It was an improvement from last week.”

Josh Eyre

“Josh Eyre got half a game. He was a bit crook during the week, so it was good that he at least got to play. He worked hard. We’ve got a lot of work to do with the young forwards on their running patterns. It’s all new to them how we play, so he’s got some work to do there, but he’s one of those guys who’s really eager to listen and get better.”

Zach Reid

“Zach only played a quarter. He copped a massive corkie on the hip pointer and couldn’t come back on. It was only six minutes into the game, so a bit of back luck for him. Hopefully he’ll be right for this week.”

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher 

“He was a lot better this week. Last week he blew out the cobwebs, but this week his positioning was a lot better. He won a lot of contests, spoiled well and played a pretty solid game for a defender.”

Alec Waterman

“Waterman played at half-back and looked very comfortable playing there for the first time. He won a lot of the ball, was strong in the contest and showed his craft and footy smarts. A couple of times forwards got out the back of him, but for his first time as a defender, he was one of our better players.”

Nick Bryan 

“It was good for Nick. The last two weeks he’s played as a ruckman, and against Box Hill he was against two big ruckmen for the whole game. They were working him over the whole game, which is exactly what Nick needs. He ran to the right positions, battled hard all day, put in a four-quarter effort and improved from last week.”

Tom Hird

“The boys were pretty happy with ‘Hirdy’ after the game. He put himself in dangerous positions in the air and took a few really courageous marks, so his contest work was really good. He’s just learning the defensive games; a few times he lost his direct opponent so that’s something he’ll keep learning on as a new backman. His ball use was better this week; he’s making good decisions with the ball and executing his kicks.”

Cody Brand

“Brand played key back for most of the game. He had a couple of big contests where he spoiled really well. He got led to the ball a few times, which is something we’re working on with him. It was really good to see him out there working hard, getting used to the pace of game and learning.”

Martin Gleeson

“Marty was solid again. He positions himself very well and sets up the ground. His experience is fantastic for our young group.”