Cale Hooker of the Bombers scores a goal against the Kangaroos.
Cale Hooker of the Bombers scores a goal against the Kangaroos. TRACEY NEARMY

Key forward lifts flat Bombers to win over Roos

THE Bombers looked flat all day against North Melbourne.

Yet despite their struggles, there was still a feeling a key Bomber could break the game apart in

Normally, Joe Daniher would be the prime candidate to step up - he's not one of the league's leading goalkickers for nothing.

But with Daniher well held by the Kangaroos' defence - led by a gritty Scott Thompson - it was important the lesser lights of the Bombers forward line stood tall.

Enter Cale Hooker - the man some have said couldn't make it as a forward.

While he was held to just one goal in the first three quarters, the defender-turned-forward came alive in the last term with four goals to will his side to a 20.12.132 to 16.9.105 victory in an otherwise underwhelming performance.

"He's really asserted himself," Eddie McGuire said during the Fox Footy broadcast.

Opposed to North Melbourne youngster Daniel Nielson, Hooker asserted his dominance against the third-gamer, frequently ruffling the defender's hair after kicking his fourth-quarter goals.

It wasn't just in front of goal where Hooker made his presence known - with the big man finishing with 18 disposals and nine marks, while leading the Bombers for contested marks with three.

"He stood up late and he got the job done for us," Dyson Heppell said on Fox Footy after the match.

Meanwhile Essendon's mosquito fleet made their presence known against an inexperienced Roos outfit, with Orazio Fantasia (four) and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (three) combining for seven goals.

 

Ben Brown of the Kangaroos (left) runs for the ball with David Myers of the Bombers.
Ben Brown of the Kangaroos (left) runs for the ball with David Myers of the Bombers. TRACEY NEARMY

Other Dons chipped into the winning score, with Heppell kicking two goals from the midfield, while James Stewart and Daniher finished with two apiece.

At the end of the day, the Dons found a way to get it done.

And it's a performance Hooker should take plenty from.

In pleasing signs for North Melbourne supporters, Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite - who largely got the better of Michael Hurley - combined for 10 goals, a forward-line effort which pleased Triple M's Nathan Brown.

"Ben Brown and Waite have really worked well together today," he said.

It added further intrigue to the race for the Coleman Medal.

Brown's six-goal haul combined with Daniher's second in the dying stages saw the duo move level with Sydney's Lance Franklin on 47 goals apiece in a three-way tie for the goalkicking award.

 

Joe Daniher scores a goal for the Bombers against North Melbourne.
Joe Daniher scores a goal for the Bombers against North Melbourne. TRACEY NEARMY

Meanwhile, it was a tough day out for North Melbourne debutant Nick Larkey.

With 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Larkey was yet to touch the football.

But the youngster looked set to get his first opportunity when he leapt cleanly to take a mark inside 50 - only to drop the ball at the crucial moment and tweak his knee in the process.

From there, Essendon would take the ball down the other end, with the speedy Orazio Fantasia kicking a goal on the run.

It would kick-start a run of four straight Essendon goals.

At three-quarter-time, Larkey had still failed to register a disposal to his name. At full time, he had zero disposals and two hitouts to his name - a tough day out in any sense of the word.

It was in stark contrast to fellow debutant Josh Williams, who kicked a lovely goal with his first kick to open the scoring in the first quarter.

News Corp Australia


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