AFL NAB Cup Live Melbourne Demons vs Essendon Bombers Stream AFL Pre Seasons NAB Challenge match will be kick off at Etihad Stadium,Melbourne, Australia, Friday 20 March 2015 online, 17.50pm (AEDT) and its broadcast on Foxtell.
THE football world will tonight get its strongest insight into how competitive Essendon will be in Round 1 against Sydney under a drugs doomsday scenario.
Should players facing doping charges receive guilty verdicts and be suspended for the start of the season, coach James Hird will have little scope to change his final NAB Challenge line-up.
The AFL anti-doping tribunal will hand down its findings on March 31, four days before the Dons-Swans game at ANZ Stadium.
Only four players — Nick Kommer (injured knee) and rookies Kurt Aylett, Jake Long and Conor McKenna — who joined Essendon after 2012 have been excluded from the team to face Melbourne tonight.
Nineteen players from the 2012 list have sat out NAB Challenge games — all bar one or two due to the fact they are serving provisional doping bans.
In a doomsday scenario, possibly only veteran Jason Winderlich would be eligible for Round 1 from the unsighted group.
Hird omitted four top-up players for tonight’s Etihad Stadium clash and added 2012 squad member Mark Baguley, further eroding secrecy surrounding the Bomber players facing drug bans.
Fellow 2012 players David Zaharakis, Jackson Merrett, Elliott Kavanagh, Lauchlan Dalgleish and Nick O’Brien have also played this pre-season, indicating they did not receive infraction notices from the AFL.
Forward Joe Daniher said the match tonight was a great opportunity for young players to stand up.
“We were really disappointed in our showing last week against (Greater) Western Sydney and we’re going to come out and put our best foot forward,” he said.
“This is our last tune-up for Round 1, so we’ll be cracking in.”
The Bombers’ make-up teams have lost by 51 and 45 points to St Kilda and the Giants this pre-season. Daniher said the hastily assembled side was yet to “nail” its structures.
“Hopefully we’ll come out (tonight) and put on a better showing,” he said.
TAB Sportsbet yesterday said the Demons’ odds of $1.14 tonight was their shortest head-to-head price since Round 19, 2000, the year they reached the Grand Final but lost to Essendon.
Melbourne has since played 320 premiership season matches and 35 pre-season games.
Hird said the first half against Greater Western Sydney was “pretty unacceptable” but the unique situation had allowed youngsters Jason Ashby, Marty Gleeson and draftee Kyle Langford to accelerate their development.
“We’d love a win, that’d be nice,” Hird told the club’s website.
“We expect to be a lot better than what we were last week.”
According to Champion Data’s Prospectus, Essendon will field zero “elite” players, three “above average” players and five “average” players against the Dees.
Round 1 opponent Sydney has 16 players classified as “elite” or “above average” while Round 2 rival Hawthorn has eight “elite” stars.
Melbourne Demons: 1. Jesse Hogan, 2. Nathan Jones, 3. Christian Salem, 4. Jack Watts, 5. Jimmy Toumpas, 6. Chris Dawes, 7. Jack Viney, 8. Heritier Lumumba, 11. Max Gawn, 12. Dom Tyson, 13. Jordie Mckenzie, 14. Lynden Dunn, 17. Sam Frost, 18. Daniel Cross, 19. Ben Newton, 20. Colin Garland, 21. Cameron Pedersen, 22. Viv Michie, 24. Jay Kennedy-Harris, 25. Tom McDonald, 31. Jack Grimes, 36. Jeff Garlett, 37. Aaron vandenBerg, 39. Neville Jetta, 40. Mark Jamar, 44. Rohan Bail, 45. Matt Jones
Essendon Bombers: 3. Paul Chapman, 6. Joe Daniher, 7. Zach Merrett, 9. Brendon Goodard, 10. Nick O’Brien, 11. David Zaharakis,12. Mark Baguley, 13. Adam Cooney, 14. Jason Ashby, 19. Shaun Edwards, 20. Jackson Merrett, 27. Jon Giles, 28. Elliott Kavanagh, 29. Patrick Ambrose, 30. Kyle Langford, 33. Jayden Laverde, 35. Marty Gleeson, 36. Lachlan Dalgleish, 41. Will Hams, 42. James Gwilt, 44. Shaun McKernan, 46. Orazio Fantasia, 47. Marcus Marigliani, 54. Josh Freezer, 72. Clinton Jones, 73. Mitch Brown, 75. Jared Petrenko