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Kim Densham in Melbourne for AFANA.

Essendon touted as Wooden Spoon contenders for season 2008, started the new era of Windy Hill - not only with new Coach Matthew Knights in his first game, but also without 11 big name stars, such as Lloyd, Lucas, Fletcher and McVeigh but  an inspirational win, albeit against an undermanned Lions, Proving that life after “Sheedy and Hirdy” is possible.

A tough pre season showed, the tackling was ferocious and Essendon imposed their physical presence on the game from the first siren. Much like Sheedy did in his first season as coach 28 years ago.  With plenty of run in the young legs, the Baby Bombers took on the injury depleted Lions, giving another first game coach – premiership player Justin Leppitsch, a baptism of fire.

The run was straight through the middle, the targets captain Adam McPhee, Courtenay Dempsey(19 touches), David Hille and Scott Gumbleton, .. The blistering pace of Jetta, Johns and Houli (25 touches) provided the midfield excitement. Sheedy, if he was watching would have been pleased with “his” boys.

A 39 point 2nd quarter set up the Bombers for an interesting second half. Although the Lions looked scrappy with handling errors, there were plenty of positives for Coach Matthews in the season ahead.

The final term was played in intermittent tropical rain but the Bombers had done enough and with the gap just out of reach, the lack of Brisbane game time proved telling and Essendon ran out winners by  27 points .2.11.16 (100) to 2.8.7 (73).

 “There were certainly some young players that played well, but now they’ve got to do it consistently for the next month to prove their worth before round one” said coach Knights, post game.

The only negative for the evening was a severe hamstring injury to Scott Gumbleton.

Bombers now face the Bulldogs at the Dome this Friday…. And with al the Bulldogs off field turmoil this week it will interesting to see how that impacts the “Doggies” preparation.

In the meantime Knights has a 100% record as coach and with some guns to come back, this season will need consistency – both on game day and mentally if the Baby Bombers are going to play finals football in 2008


Article last changed on Friday, February 29, 2008 - 8:25 PM EST

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