Werribee and Essendon will both be looking to get back on the winner’s list in front of the Channel 7 cameras when they square off at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday.
Saturday, June 14
2:10pm at Avalon Airport Oval
Broadcast live and free on 7VFL
The story so far
Last week’s disappointing 58-point loss to Collingwood leaves Werribee at 3-9 and ends any mathematical possibility of a finals berth, but there is still much for the boys in the “big W” to play for, not least of all a home win with viewers across the state tuning in on the channels of 7.
At 7-5, Essendon currently sits in fourth on the ladder but is precariously placed given only percentage separates it from the ninth-placed Footscray. Following consecutive losses to the Casey Demons and Richmond respectively, the Bombers need a win on the road not only to try to give themselves some breathing space but also to restore some momentum and confidence entering the final third of the season.
It’s been more than 12 months since the two sides squared off, Werribee having played “host” to Essendon at Arden Street in round three of the 2017 season as part of the year of the “Travelling Tigers”. The 23-point victory for Werribee gave it its first win for the year and kicked off a six-game winning streak.
• John Lamont’s side may pride itself of being a “kicking team”, but Essendon takes the cake in that department as the VFL’s number-one kicking side. Throw in the fact they are ranked second for inside-50s and third for clearances and the Bombers shape as a formidable attacking prospect.
• Fortunately for Werribee, Essendon doesn’t stack up quite as well without ball in hand; the Bombers are ranked last in the competition for tackles, while the strong defensive mindset of the boys in the “big W” sees them ranked third and has them well placed to get on top in the pressure stakes on Saturday.
• Two players Werribee will need to pay close attention to as part of its defensive effort in the middle of the ground are Dylan Clarke and Nick Hind. Clarke is currently averaging just under 30 disposals per game and is also one of his side’s top tackling exponents with just over eight per game, while Hind sits fourth in the VFL for total inside-50s with 58 from 11 matches.
• If any two players are up for shutdown role for Werribee, it’s Dom Brew and Kurt Aylett. With eight clearances and 27 disposals respectively in last week’s losing effort against Collingwood, both players won more than their fair share of the footy as well, but it was their outrageous combined tally of 38 tackles – 20 to Brew and 18 to Aylett – that really had the statisticians working overtime, Brew’s final number surpassing the all-time AFL record.
• Headed by Josh Porter and featuring first-gamer Fabian Brancatisano, Werribee’s forward line faces a big task against an experienced Essendon backline; AFL-listers Michael Hartley and Aaron Francis will serve as the key defensive pillars, while the hard-running Jordan Ridley offers the Bombers good run off half-back and may require attention from the likes of a Jake Sharp in a forward defensive role.
• Werribee’s backline has delivered some intriguing match-ups in recent weeks, and it could find itself involved in several more against Essendon. Front and centre is the likely battle between Sam Collins and Bomber big man James Stewart, while first-gamer Ben McNamara could find himself faced with the likes of a Jayden Laverde in a "third tall" role. At the other end of the size specturm, Jack Henderson is a potential point of interest given his stellar shutdown roles on some of the most dangerous small forwards in the competition this season. The first-year player is no certain starter after sustaining a heavy knock to the thigh against Collingwood last week, but should he find his way into the side, both Josh Green and the lively Danny Younan loom as possible direct opponents.
• The tasks just don't get any easier for Werribee big man Jack Berry, who continues to battle tirelessly and valiantly each week as his side's sole dedicated ruckman. Berry may receive some extra support this week should key-position utility Harry Boyd make his way back into the side, which will likely be a welcome prospect given the Bombers will be boosted by the inclusion of 136-game AFL veteran Matthew Leuenberger alongside Sam Draper.