Essendon v Richmond, NAB Challenge, Morwell

Good evening,

On the way home from our short holiday in Merimbula, we just happened to be passing through Morwell in country Victoria at precisely the time that Essendon and Richmond were playing a NAB Challenge game at the fantastic Morwell City Oval. Imagine my surprise when I (casually) mentioned to Robin that we could drop in for a look, and she said 'OK'. We didn't know where the ground was precisely, but after only five minutes of scouring the town, the growing crowd was spotted, a parking spot secured, and we were inside about one minute after the first bounce.

What excitement! At a suburban (well, country anyway) ground, standing in the outer on the wing, drinking a 'Coke' while eating a jam donut watching the mighty Bombers go round. It doesn't get much better than that!

Through the middle, Go Bombers! - 2010

As we were in the middle of a long drive, we only stayed for the first half. So, what did I think?

Well, our forward line seemed to work well against the Tigers, at least. Gumbleton, Neagle and Hille (he is a BIG unit) worked nicely together, and played wide and stretched the Richmond defence. Ryder rucked well and picked up many possessions across the mid field and presented really well. The defence seemed stout, although for the Tigers, Nahas and a newcomer, Roberts, cut extremely speedy swathes through our defence for impressive goals in Q2. But outside of that, Pears, Hooker and (especially) Fletcher stood firm and Slattery cleaned up neatly. But to my eye, Brent Stanton was the stand out in the first half. He ran laterally and very, very hard, while disposing of the ball extremely well usually by foot to position. Young Howlett looked impressive as well, while Zaharakis looks to have matured into a 'real' AFL player.

Apparently we had a pretty strong side out there today, with Jetta, McVeigh, Lovett-Murray, Houli, Melksham, Laycock and Hurley being the notable absentees.

The Bounce - 2010

To my uneducated eye, the game plan appears to be to switch direction from defence, then switch again using fast hand, leg and foot speed to move the ball and possession towards and through the 'corridor'. That plan requires extreme skill to perfect and at times it appeared that more skills sessions will be required. Also, when the run stopped, say late in a quarter, we looked a little stodgy and proppy as we found it difficult to move the ball out of defence. And as per last year, we often looked better with the ball, than without it.

And I do need to brush up on the players numbers however as there were quite a few players who I did not recognise either by number or physique.

When we left it was 12.4 to 5.4 in favour of the Bombers in a fast and entertaining half of football played in glorious conditions.

The EFC Quarter Time Huddle in front of the 'Adoring Faithfull' - 2010

The crowd to my estimate was at least 5,000. A boost to the local economy I hope. Even Robin commented how great is was to be watching on the 'same level' as the players and to be so close to hear and feel the action. Roll on season 2010!

Update: The final score was 23.9 to 11.7, with some 14 different goal kickers. Outstanding!

Bye for now, BomberBoy