Geelong’s Jamaine Jones and Essendon’s Adam Saad battle at ground level. Picture: Michael Klein
Geelong’s Jamaine Jones and Essendon’s Adam Saad battle at ground level. Picture: Michael Klein

Bombers must review Stringer experiment

PRE-SEASON is a time to experiment. Sometimes trying players in new positions pays off, and sometimes you need to admit when things aren't working.

Essendon's coaching panel will have a lot of thinking to do before Round 1 on the roles of an established star and its biggest recruit, while the Cats have gone back to the future with a club favourite.

Here are Scott Gullan's key takeaways from Essendon's four-point JLT Community Series win.

Jake Stringer snaps a brilliant goal in the third quarter. Picture: Michael Klein
Jake Stringer snaps a brilliant goal in the third quarter. Picture: Michael Klein

CONFUSING JAKE

TWO games into his Essendon career and there is still confusion about what Jake Stringer is going to be in 2018.

The positives in Colac were nothing new with his two goals typical Stringer. The first in the opening term was a brilliant one-step banana up from the boundary line and then in the third quarter he screwed one across his body from 45m.

All the noise over the summer was about how he would be spending more time in the midfield. Well, he was in there and spent a fair bit of time standing next to Cats skipper Joel Selwood, but that was about it.

Selwood went on to get a lot of the ball and Stringer very little.

The Western Bulldogs premiership forward seems bigger than previous years and simply doesn't have the engine to be a factor in the middle. One effort here and there doesn't really cut it.

 

HOOKER DILEMMA

It gets talked about all the time but John Worsfold needs to also seriously look at abandoning the Cale Hooker experiment as a forward.

While he's more than capable in attack, the introduction of Stringer is the perfect support for Joe Daniher with James Stewart a capable second tall option.

The bottom line is Hooker is needed in defence and Tom Hawkins showed why.

The Cats spearhead was up against Patrick Ambrose and manhandled the young Bomber, dominating him for five goals.

Michael Hurley floated around on the Cats second tall, which is how you want him playing, which meant Hooker on Hawkins would have been a logical move.

RISING STAR MOVE

THE much-anticipated move of Andrew McGrath into the midfield continues to take shape.

Last year's Rising Star spent most of yesterday on a wing, where his cool head and excellent decision making was on display.

McGrath collected 24 possessions which included 17 handballs. Former GWS Giant Devon Smith was the best of the new faces with two goals from 22 touches. The both present potential SuperCoach value.

Andrew McGrath showed plenty in a new role up the field. Picture: Michael Klein
Andrew McGrath showed plenty in a new role up the field. Picture: Michael Klein

HAPPY HARRY

IT'S amazing how much better Geelong looks with Harry Taylor as a key defender.

A lot of Cats fans will be breathing a sigh of relief given the swingman experiment which has frustrated many over the last couple of years.

Taylor spent most of the day curbing Joe Daniher (one goal) and the backline looks well balanced with him as the main man, surrounded by Tom Stewart and Jake Kolodjashnij as the other tells.

Lachie Henderson (knee) won't play in the opening round so the improvement of Kolodjashnij, who was trialled without much success as a midfielder last year, will be crucial.

NO TRADE BONUS

CHRIS Scott should be quietly thanking his rivals for not wanting Daniel Menzel during the trade period.

In the end Menzel signed a one-year deal to remain at Kardinia Park and his value to the Cats set up was on full display against the Bombers.

The one-two punch with Tom Hawkins caused all sorts of problems for Essendon's defence with the pair combining for nine goals.

Menzel's lack of tackling pressure was seen as the reason he was on the outer last year but Scott has smartly placed some fleet-footed tacklers around him in Brandon Parfitt, Tim Kelly, Jamaine Jones and Gryan Miers.

IRISH BARREL

ZACH Tuohy provided one of the highlights of the day, unleashing an enormous torpedo from full-back which reached the middle of Central Reserve.

It must be noted that the Cats defender was kicking with a fairly handy breeze in the third quarter when he rolled out the barrel.

While Tuohy was his normal productive self with 28 disposals, it was Geelong's other Irishman Mark O'Connor who caught the eye.

O'Connor, who played two games last year, ran around on the wing and collected 18 disposals in a polished display.

 

Tim Kelly is a good chance to line up for the Cats in Round 1.
Tim Kelly is a good chance to line up for the Cats in Round 1.

SUPERCOACH LOCK

DID Tim Kelly do enough to play Round 1?

It's the question all SuperCoach players were asking after the first-year Cat had been a revelation in the opening practice match in Townsville.

While he didn't star in JLT2, Kelly certainly didn't harm his chances of debuting in the season-opener, doing some nice things through the midfield and up forward, collecting 13 disposals with one goal.

Already having an AFL-ready body is a major bonus for the mature-age recruit who assistant coach Corey Enright hinted was looking good to play against the Demons.

Tom Hawkins takes a big grab. Picture: Michael Klein
Tom Hawkins takes a big grab. Picture: Michael Klein

MITCH UNDERSOLD

HE'S been dubbed the fourth Beatle and Mitch Duncan again showed that might be undervaluing his importance.

With Patrick Dangerfield likely to miss the season opener and Gary Ablett's status still unclear, Duncan is more than ready to step into the breach given his classy 38-disposal final hitout.

Duncan and fellow Beatle, captain Joel Selwood, were the two most dominant midfielders against the Bombers.

Selwood was having his first run for the pre-season and never missed a beat, collected 35 touches.


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