Preview: Essendon vs. Northern Blues

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The Northern Blues will look for their first win in a number of years against Essendon tomorrow afternoon. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Murdoch)

Another significant test awaits the Northern Blues tomorrow at Windy Hill.

The Blues head to the traditional home of Essendon from 2:!0pm, and both sides enter the game with a win firmly on the agenda.

The teams enter the contest in contrasting form: Essendon have won two of their last three games, while the Blues are without a victory in their last four games.

Consecutive matches in the last fortnight have been hard to swallow for the Blues, falling at critical moments against two of the form sides of the competition in Box Hill and Port Melbourne.

A number of experienced AFL players for Essendon will pose a threat for Northern, who will have to found a counter for the likes of Heath Hocking, Ben Howlett and Brent Stanton.

While without a win in over a month of football, Northern have been right in the hunt in all bar one game. 

If they are to register their seventh win of the year, the Blues will need a greater spread of contributors than recent weeks, with too much left to too few in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Opposition Watch: Round 13 vs. Essendon

With youngsters Patrick Kerr and Cameron Polson unavailable through injury, some Development Blues will have to step up to the plate alongside their experience teammates.

The midfield grunt will have to be shared between the likes of Rhys Palmer and Tom Wilson, with Matthew Korcheck — who impressed last weekend — shouldering the ruck load.

He’ll have a big job against the experienced duo of Shaun McKernan and the returning Matthew Leuenberger, who are two of 16 AFL-listed players featuring for the Bombers.

Recent history is against the Blues, with only one win from eight games against Essendon’s VFL side. Since the Bombers’ reintroduction into the competition in 2013, they are four wins from four games over the Blues.

It’ll be a good chance for a young Blues outfit to come up against a battle-hardened outfit, with the Bombers taking in over 850 games of AFL experience.

The game at Windy Hill will see all supporters entitled to free entry, with the game also to be broadcast live on Channel 7 in Victoria. Interstate viewers can tune in via the PLUS7 app or website by changing their location to Melbourne (postcode 3000).

Alternatively, follow @NBluesFC on Twitter for live updates from every game throughout the season.

The Northern Blues Development side will be in action when they take on the Hawks at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday at 9am.

MATCH DETAILS
Round 13 VFL
Essendon VFL vs. Northern Blues
Windy Hill
Saturday, July 15 — 2:10pm
Live on Channel 7
Free entry for all supporters

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Harry McKay:
With his forward partner Patrick Kerr to miss, tomorrow presents an opportunity for 19-year-old to make his mark on the Northern Blues’ forward line. The key forward has struggled for opportunity in recent weeks, and will be hoping to get ahold of Essendon with potentially Kristian Jaksch and Daniel Gorringe in support. McKay has hit the scoreboard in all bar one game this year.

Billie Smedts: With the Blues losing some vital run-and-carry in recent games, Smedts provides a key outlet for Northern heading into tomorrow’s game. Smedts has the potential to play a role as either and inside or outside midfielder, and was a key part of the Blues getting their game going in the second quarter last week against Port Melbourne. He has averaged over 22 disposals a game when playing for Northern in 2017.

Marcus Stavrou: The versatile young defender has impressed all comers in his maiden season at Preston City Oval, particularly with a faultless start to the year. Stavrou once again held his own against the Borough last week, and will take his place in a youthful Northern defensive set-up once more tomorrow. He could also have a role to play as part of the midfield rotation which will be decisive in tomorrow’s match.