NAB Cup Round 1 Review: Eagles Fly High, Bombers Crash.

Usually, I’d take the time to point out the meaninglessness of what occurred tonight. The fact that trial runs are just that, and we should look no further into the looking glass than usual and carry on without a second thought, can’t apply to the last game of Week 1 of the NAB Cup. Both the Dockers and Bombers have some serious issues to address in the weeks coming into the season. The Eagles? They looked hot, even not at full strength, with those on the fringes making good cases for why they should be re-occurring figures in Eagles best 22, they shape themselves to prove those who doubted such a rise in 2011 as a one off horribly wrong.

WEST COAST EAGLES VS ESSENDON BOMBERS – GAME 1

West Coast 5.1  9.3 (57)
Essendon 2.3  5.6 (36)

Supergoals: Nil

Goals:
West Coast: Hams 2, Weedon 2, Mascoulis, McInnes, Nicoski.
Essendon: Crameri 2, Colyer, Dell’Olio, Melksham

The Eagles were the one’s to capitalise on Essendon’s mistakes. Errant kicking and horrible disposal haunted to the Bombers and prevented them from moving the ball past half-forward with out troubles. This allowed the Eagles in the first half on the constant basis to rebound and catch Essendon’s inexperienced defense out on numerous occasions. Ex-Bulldog Josh Hill broke lines, whilst having forward pressure from Weedon and Nicoski saw the Bombers down four goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. The highest score for a NAB Cup game so far this season was accumulated by the Eagles side which really only had to wait for the Dons to make a meal of it going forward.  Kicking efficiency was well under 50% for most of the first half. Even in contests, the Eagles pre-season looked to create harder bodies; with Chris Masten ending the match with 12 touches for his troubles. The hard work of Angus Monfries was undone by his execution. He ran to the right spaces, made himself dangerous; looked to win the ball back for his side when the Eagles pressed; yet had a kicking efficiency of less than 20%.

Even when Hird’s men looked to hold on to the ball to prevent the Eagles from having possession, hitting targets was still difficult.  Regardless of these criticisms, Stuart Crameri and Cory Dell’olio seemed solid enough in attack to present the diehards something to look forward to.

Best:
West Coast: Hams, Hill, Wheedon, Nicoski, Smith
Essendon: Hibbard, Hooker, Melksham, Crameri, Carlisle

Talking Points:

– Josh Hill – Confident, quick and worked hard. Looks to have slotted in nicely.

– Disposal efficiency – Awful. Essendon fans should be thankful that this has been highlighted now before the season has begun. Really did not look comfortable at any stage kicking the ball whether it be from rebound or holding up the play.

– Chris Masten – Could be the next Eagles midfielder to go up a few notches. Watch this space.

– West Coast Forward Press- Dangerously good. Strangled the Bombers, and then the Dockers later on. Superb, built a force field around half back that was impenetrable.

Fantasy Footy Buy: 

Garrick Wheedon – Kid looks the goods. Tackles with intensity, kick for goal is outstanding. Get on board. Perfect replacement for LeCras.

ESSENDON BOMBERS VS FREMANTLE DOCKERS – GAME 2

Fremantle 1.2.5  1.7.5 (56)
Essendon  0.2.1   3.2 (20)

Supergoals:
Fremantle: Suban.
Essendon: Nil.

Goals:
Fremantle: Neale 2, Mellington, Duffield, Pavlich, McPhee, Pearce.
Essendon: Monfries, Dell’Olio, Hille.

To Ross Lyon’s credit, he understands the attacking nature of his new club. As many were to believe Fremantle would be a team to avoid watching for the neutrals due Lyon’s tactics that were employed at St.Kilda, they have been resoundingly proven wrong. The Dockers, if anything, went long to every contest inside 50 and created at every time the ball hit the deck. The inspired move of pushing Ballantyne up the ground seems to so far be a success, with his influence in breaking lines and winning ball at ground level, one of the reasons why the Dockers were able to pull away. Just like the Eagles, by pressuring the defense with numerous tacklers; Essendon had nowhere to run. Micheal Hibbard’s night was ordinary;  regardless of the disposals he racked up, he seemed to be failing to hit targets (Dockers pressure).

By the time the second half came along, the Bombers had hardly any response. However, Dell’Olio’s presence up front was brilliant; making contests and out marking his immediate defender on few occasions saw him to be a shining light. None shone more than Lachie Neale; with his 2 goals and countless crumbing saw him clearly best afield for the Dockers. Essendon trundled off Paterson’s disappointed; shown up once again interstate. However, they should not be disheartened in knowing that there’s still hope to correct what went horribly wrong.

Best:
Fremantle: Neale, Pavlich, Ballantyne, Sandilands, Fyfe
Essendon: Jetta, Hibbard, Davey, Carlisle, Dell’Olio

Talking Points:

Lachie Neale: Trended on Twitter for two hours. The performance I believe earned a worthy response.

Leroy Jetta: Fast, used the ball better than his team-mates. Essendon need a man to stand up and break lines when the walls come closing in. Should be the man to do it in 2012.

Hayden Ballantyne: Frodo looked to be in everything. Dockers fans should rejoice this man moving into heavy traffic up the ground. Opposition now has to deal with the serial pest cutting off potential counter-attacks, instead of just mouthing off defenders.

Fantasy Football Buy:

Lachie Neale: Obviously. Should get more games then he bargained for if he in Rounds 2 and 3 stakes his claim against different opposition.

FREMANTLE DOCKERS VS WEST COAST EAGLES – GAME 3

West Coast: 1.5  4.6 (30)
Fremantle:  0.1  1.4 (1o)

Supergoals: Nil

Goals:
West Coast: Cox 2, Shuey, Wheedon.
Fremantle: Mellington.

The Dockers pressure in the previous game on Essendon’s hapless defense was no match for what the Eagles served up. The impenetrable wall saw both sides goalless within a minute of the first half ending. A physical contest began which saw the Dockers target the Eagles ball users to gain possession. Fremantle often wasted first use of the ball, which then saw a 10 minute period in which the Eagles locked the ball in their attack. Numerous attempts and methods were used by the Dockers defenders and midfielders to clear the ball; all with little success. Shannon Hurn picked up most of his game high 15 disposals off these failed attempts to clear the ball. His presence superceded whatever attempts the Dockers had to change the flow of the game, with his assist to Garrick Weedon ensuring the solitary goal in the first half.

The Eagles then pulled away in the second half, with big man Dean Cox dominating to pick up 2 late goals to sink the Dockers whilst drifting forward. The Dockers seemed lost for answers, and even after the solitary goal was kicked by youngster Josh Mellington, the body language of the fatigued unit said more than the scoreboard.

Best:
West Coast: Cox, Hurn, Shuey, Masten, Stevenson.
Fremantle: McPhee, Duffield, Crowley, Broughton, Pitt.

Talking Points:

Fremantle and the Press: If Fremantle are to defeat better sides, their run and carry needs to improve. They looked amateurish in their feeble attempts to simply bomb the ball high and hope. Luckly, just like Esssendon, there’s awhile to go until Round 1.

Eagles midfield: Shuey, Masten, Stevenson – Used the ball cleanly. All look to have put on muscle in the off-season which made their physicality too much for the Dockers.

Jack Anthony – Worked hard and presented well for zero results. Has to find something soon due to running out of chances at professional level.

Fantasy Football Buy:

Dean Cox- Seriously, he played 40 minutes of football to pick up 62 Dream Team points. Utterly absurd. A must have in the twilight of his career.

Injuries from all games: Nil.
Reports: Nil.

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