Practice match report: Northern Blues v Essendon


Carlton and Northern Blues youngsters showed positives in the opening practice match of 2020. (PHOTO CREDIT: Carlton Media)

THERE were a number of positive signs to come from the Northern Blues’ first practice match of 2020.

While the result didn’t go the way of the Blues in their opening hitout, there were strong showings from young players all over the park.

An efficient Essendon ultimately proved too strong in the 11.4 (70) to 6.6 (42) result, with the game played in four 20-minute flat quarters.

In their first showing in their new colours, new Blues Fraser Phillips and Josh Honey as well as VFL-listed Cody Hirst, Joe Richards and Jordan Cunico all showed cause for optimism leading into 2020.

It was a physical contest from the get-go. Matthew Owies was strong in the forward 50, proving to be opportunistic from limited supply and setting up shots on goal. Honey had plenty of it in the forward line but was unable to convert, as Northern’s two goals came from Phillips and Jean-Luc Velissaris. The back-line was keeping Essendon on their toes, with youngsters Ben Silvagni and Kye Quirk intercepting well.

Caleb Marchbank started to make an impact down back in the second in his first game in nine months. His intercept marking and decision-making proving to be a valuable asset in defence. The Blues struggled to make the most of their opportunities going forward, with the solitary goal for the quarter coming from Finbar O’Dwyer. Hugh Goddard and Alex Johnson turned up the heat in defence, while Jordan Cunico provided good transition between the arcs in his first outing as a Blue.

Joe Richards proved why he has been regarded as such a promising recruit in Blue, making an immediate impact when he arrived to the game in the third quarter. Both teams struggled to put the score on the board in an end-to-end quarter, with Northern rotating 26 players through the game over the course of four quarters. Former Swan Cody Hirst provided some run and energy, while Hugh Goddard’s contested marking once again shone through.

Kieran Collins made his way onto the field in the fourth, providing another set of strong hands down back, while returning Blue Tim Jones provided a spark in the middle. The same could be said for Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay, who used his pace and penetrating kicking to full advantage. Noah Wheeler hit the scoreboard with something out of nothing, while Phillips was a multiple goalkicker on the night.

NORTHERN BLUES        2.2     3.3     4.3      6.6 (42)
ESSENDON VFL         4.0     6.2     9.3      11.4 (70)

Goals: Phillips 2, O’Dwyer, Owies, Velissaris, Wheeler