Bombers weigh up Hall options - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers weigh up Hall options

25/05/2010 03:36:31 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights is confident the umpires won't come over all whistle-happy in favour of Western Bulldogs spearhead Barry Hall in Friday night's big AFL clash.

Hall escaped suspension for his headlock on North Melbourne defender Scott Thompson last weekend, with the match review panel downgrading the charge to misconduct.

Hall was fined $3000 with umpires boss Jeff Gieschen acknowledging the nearest field umpire should have intervened earlier and penalised Thompson for knocking Hall over as he tied up his bootlaces.

Knights is weighing up whether to give veteran Dustin Fletcher or talented youngster Tayte Pears first crack on Hall in Friday's clash at Etihad Stadium.

"I don't think the umpires are going to go out and start paying Barry free after free for any incidental contact," Knights said on Tuesday.

"I think they'll call it as they see it and Dustin and Tayte and our other defenders will play Barry Hall in a way that we'll work on during the week.

"We'll do our very best to play aggressive football, but legal, and that's all you can ask of your players.

"... But what is important is that the Western Bulldogs have got five or six talented forwards, whether it's (Daniel) Giansiracusa, (Josh) Hill or (Mitch) Hahn, they all must be respected in their own way.

"It's not just about Barry Hall, they've got a very, very strong team who were just a breath away form last year's grand final."

Pears was also involved in a minor umpiring controversy in last weekend's 35-point win over Richmond, when he conceded a free kick to Jack Riewoldt before the opening bounce after the Tigers forward appeared to target the hand he had broken several weeks earlier.

Riewoldt missed the subsequent shot at goal but went on to boot six majors in a forgettable night for Pears.

Tough utility Nathan Lovett-Murray is set to return to senior action if he can prove he has recovered from a foot injury, while midfielder Ricky Dyson (knee) is only an outside chance of taking on the Bulldogs.

Impressive youngster Jake Melksham is a 50-50 shot after hurting his ankle against the Tigers, while Kyle Reimers is more likely to resume in the VFL after a month out with a broken thumb.

The Bulldogs sit fourth on the ladder with six wins from nine matches while Essendon are tenth with a four-five win-loss record.

In other news, Knights felt it was hard to say whether Bendigo Bombers' coach Shannon Grant's arrest for drunkenness would harm any long-term ambitions he may hold to become a senior AFL coach.

Grant has been stood down for two weeks from match-day duties with Essendon's VFL affiliate after being locked up in Bendigo for four hours last weekend before being released without charge.

"He's really remorseful about what occurred," said Knights of the former Sydney and North Melbourne star, who is in his first year as Bendigo coach.

"He understands his role as a leader at the club, leading our young men.

"He's going to do his very best to go from here and work hard and give back to the club who have given him an opportunity."

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