Essendon powers past Hawthorn, Hird out - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Essendon powers past Hawthorn, Hird out

10/03/2006 10:55:17 PM Comments (0)

Essendon recorded a 37-point victory over Hawthorn in its NAB Challenge clash in Bendigo, but it came at a cost with superstar James Hird sustaining a calf injury.

The Bombers 16.13 (109) defeated the Hawks 11.6 (72) in front of a full-house at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.

Despite achieving its second win of the pre-season, Hird's injury left a bitter taste for Bombers fans.

The legendary Bomber booted a goal in the first term and was busy - in his first appearance during the pre-season - but he finished the match with his calf iced after limping from the ground early in the third term.

It is the second successive season that the Bombers have walked away from their clash in Bendigo with an injury to one of their elite players after Matthew Lloyd broke his arm against Geelong in last year's corresponding match.

It remains unclear at this stage how severe Hird's injury is.

On top of Hird's setback, Courtney Johns, whose highly-promising career has been ruined by a debilitating hip injury, rested in the second half, after he received a knock to his shoulder.

Johns shone in the first half, when he booted two majors. But it was his bull-at-the-gate leading and marking that was a feature of his game.

Essendon's Adam McPhee, who was sorely missed in the second part of last season with an adductor injury, was back to his 2004 best-and-fairest winner best.

McPhee was voted best-on-ground.

Acting skipper Mark Johnson was also as solid as a rock in the midfield. He booted three goals while Essendon youngsters Jobe Watson, Angus Monfries and Patrick Ryder showed plenty of promise throughout the match.

Acting Hawthorn captain Sam Mitchell was everywhere in the first-half, as was Chance Bateman - a player Hawthorn missed terribly in the second half of the 2005 season.

The duo was arguably best-on-ground before the main break, racking up possessions at will.

Trent Croad and Mark Williams, who both booted two first half goals each, were prominent up forward.

The Hawks started the match strongly when they booted the opening three goals - including the first two from sharp-shooting small forward Mark Williams - giving the brown and gold a 17-point lead.

But a timely Hird goal - and Essendon's only major during that period - helped reduce the deficit to 12 points at the first change.

Essendon stepped up in the second term, posting four goals to three and managed to hit the front late in the term, when Mark Johnson kicked truly.

But when Croad added his second soon after, the Hawks held a slender four-point lead at half-time.

But with the Hawks resting virtually its best performers from the first half, Essendon capitalised on the introduction of Hawthorn's youth, slamming six goals to two in the third term.

Essendon took a 20-point lead into the final stanza and when it added a further five goals to three, the result was never in doubt.

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