NAB Challenge, Sunday, 28 February 2016 – Round 2 – Ikon Park
Nobody knew what to expect when the new-look Bombers took the field for the first time since the ‘suspensions heard across the nation’ went down, but few were expecting the result that eventuated. Especially Carlton.
Instead of the disorganised mess you’d expect from a bunch of ring-ins (some of which only signed with the club a week previous) and young kids, the Bombers provided their fans with a small glimmer of hope as their cohesion and ball movement ripped through Carlton’s defense early. David Zaharakis (28 touches) and Brendan Goddard (21 touches and 3 goals) stepped up to the very senior roles they now have, and both look in good form. Zach Merrett has been quietly progressing into a elite footballer across his first two seasons, but the it looks as though he is ready to be fast tracked in the absence of so many midfield stars. Watch out for him this year.
Carlton fielded a side that was missing 8 of their best 22 (and you could argue, their 8 best players), and they played accordingly. Ed Curnow and Nick Graham tried hard all day, and much publicised number 1 draft pick Jacob Weitering showed plenty in his first proper game. But on the day, there really wasn’t anywhere near enough winners for the Blues.
It still seems likely that these two teams will be fighting it out for the wooden spoon this year, but there were enough signs for Bomber supporters to suggest they might have a few things to look forward to this year after all.