Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bombers in 2006

Since their first premiership in 1891 Essendon has won the most premierships (twenty) in the nation’s leading Australian Rules competition. Before Port Adelaide fans get too excited they should realize that their thirty-odd SANFL premierships are irrelevant.

Unfortunately, previous achievements are of little value when looking to the future. In 2005 Essendon had one of their worst years for a long time, although it was not as bad as it seemed because they lost several games by less than twenty points. One of their main problems was an inability to kick a winning score despite having the opportunity to do so. One of the main reasons for this was the early season arm injury to Lloyd who was only regaining confidence towards the end of the year. Another was that there was too much mucking around with the ball around the centre and half-forward lines instead of kicking it to the goal square.

What about 2006? As with most clubs the 2006 results will to some extent depend on the injury list—if players such as Hird, Lloyd, Fletcher, McPhee, Lucas, Hille and the Johnsons remain fit Essendon will finish in the eight. Another problem in recent years has been the tendency for players such as Fletcher, Lloyd and Rioli to get reported and suspended at inopportune times—this is not helpful. Given the fact that Essendon has never had early draft picks (one of the downsides of continually playing in finals) they have a pretty good younger brigade (more of them in later reports), but these players are still a year or two away from achieving their potential. A realistic prediction for Essendon in 2006 would be somewhere between eight and eleventh, although with luck they could finish fifth or sixth.

First Round. Against South Melbourne at Docklands. Both games last year were quite close. There is a fair chance of South having a premiership hangover, so Essendon has a good chance, particularly they should have almost a full list to pick from. I predict a three goal win for the Bombers. Barry Hall of course should still be serving a suspension from the preliminary final.


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