The latest flock to Don the Sash to be labelled the Baby Bombers got up in a spirited win against Melbourne last week. In wet and greasy conditions, the naturally low scoring game was a 9 point victory against the odds for the side - the youngest Essendon side since 2008. This was a great way to end a difficult week for the Bombers after St. Kilda demolished them the week before. Fortunately for the Coach, who was earlier this week in hospital with concussion after coming off his bike, this meant that there wasn't too much tinkering with the side. Only 1 change this week, forced by another concussion, this time to battler Alex Browne:
Coming in for Alex is an even younger and less experienced Kyle Langford. Langford will play just his 3rd game. Again, Essendon is fielding a side with 12 players on 40 or less games experience. North Melbourne is also making one forced change, with Drew Petrie being suspended and replaced by Aaron Black.
After another interesting week off the field with the coaches injuries, Essendon would be looking to stabilise their season. Blooding the young players is vital for the teams future prospects, especially given their 2013 sanctions costing them draft picks. There probably isn't a better time to give these kids experience, given the expectation of making finals is almost non-existent and there is still some very good experience to guide them. Players like Goddard and Stanton rose to make amends for the St. Kilda performance while youngster Joe Daniher put the league on notice with a glimpse of his future. Joe booted 5 goals straight, a result that had goal kicking coach Matthew Lloyd grinning from ear to ear.
As far as the line-ups go, losing Petrie is a significant blow to North with Daniher finding form and confidence last week. However, while Daniher may have talent oozing out of everywhere (mostly from his upper lip, taking shape as a highly inappropriate for children mustache), he is still only on 40 games and is expected to be inconsistent. Hird earlier in the week urged followers to be patient with Joe and when Lloyd managed to put away his grin and speak on Daniher clearly stated that the job is not done and Daniher will still have weeks where he struggles.
On the other side of the ground, expect Hurley to run with Waite, who had a field day last time these sides met. Around the ground, young McKernan is going to have a hard time against the experienced Goldsack, so Essendons extractors are going to need to be on song.
That said, right now, Essendon's goal is not to make finals. That ship has sailed. The goal would be to finish the season strongly and get as much experience into these younger players as they can so they can hit the ground running in 2016.
Thoughts? Put them in the comments below.