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Around the state leagues: Winderlich, Dempsey push for return

Jason Winderlich of the Bombers in action during an Essendon Bombers training session at the True Value Solar Centre, Melbourne on November 29, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Jason Winderlich is in line to return to Essendon's senior team
WAFL

WEST Coast youngster Dom Sheed has shone brightly for the Eagles' affiliate East Perth in the WAFL.

Sheed was dropped after making his AFL debut in round one, but is sure to push for selection in round three after he gathered 23 touches, with six forward 50 entries and two goals in the Royals' 18-point win over Swan Districts.

Sam Butler was among East Perth's best and had 24 disposals to stake his claim for an AFL return, while 203cm ruckman Scott Lycett won 26 hit-outs and kicked a goal from his 16 possessions.

Fraser McInnes booted three goals, while Ashley Smith (19 possessions), Patrick McGinnity (18) and Will Schofield (16) were influential.

Small forward Josh Hill booted one major from only eight touches.

Fremantle's aligned club, Peel Thunder, had the bye in round two.

NEAFL

Meanwhile, Karmichael Hunt has responded in superb fashion to Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna saying he is not in the Suns' best 22.

The code-hopper booted three goals and was named in the Suns' bests in their 30-point NEAFL loss to Southport.

Alex Sexton was the Suns' best, with the 20-year-old utility booting two goals.

Luke Russell, Jackson Allen, rookie Josh Hall and Tom Murphy were also among the best in the first round match.

The Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans' reserves teams clash on Sunday afternoon.

SANFL

In South Australia, Port Adelaide won its SANFL practice match over North Adelaide by 35 points, while the Crows' new team lost to South Adelaide by three goals.

Former senior listed Crow Ian Callinan booted four goals for Adelaide, while Jarryd Lyons and rookie Jack Osborn added two each.

The SANFL season kicks-off on Thursday night when Norwood hosts Port Adelaide.

VFL

Jason Winderlich is in line for a senior recall with Essendon after a strong return in the VFL on Saturday.
 
The Bombers forward played his first game since injuring his hamstring in the NAB Challenge and got through the contest well, playing three quarters before sitting out the last term.

But Richmond had its injury concerns with three players requiring attention.
 
The 29-year-old kicked three goals and set up plenty of other opportunities in Essendon's two-point defeat to Richmond's VFL side in a practice match at Tullamarine.
 
He played predominantly as a deep forward with short stints further up the ground, and said post-game he has targeted a senior comeback against Carlton next Sunday.
 
"I hope to be back but it just depends how I pull up, but I got through absolutely fine and my legs feel fine now," Winderlich said.
 
"I probably could have played last night [in Essendon's loss to Hawthorn] but I spoke to (coach) 'Bomber' [Thompson] on Wednesday and asked if I could have a run in the VFL first to get a bit of confidence."
 
Winderlich, who has battled soft-tissue injuries since his knee reconstruction at the start of 2011, said the opportunity to play VFL helped ease him into playing again. 
 
"The club were great and let me play today and now hopefully I can play seniors next week," he said.
 
Essendon's VFL coach Hayden Skipworth praised Winderlich, who also provided strong leadership to a group of younger forwards throughout the contest.

"He presented well and shared the ball. He could have had four or five shots at goal but passed them off, and he created a lot of scoring opportunities for us," Skipworth said.

"He was running flat out and didn't look restricted at all. Jason will no doubt be spoken about at match committee (for next week's game against Carlton) but whether he plays, that's not my call."

The Bombers have been reluctant to push Courtenay Dempsey into senior football after an interrupted pre-season but he too sahowed excellent signs for the majority of the game with dash off half-back.

Dempsey left the field midway through the final quarter after two long goals and didn't return, although Skipworth said the important Bomber had reached his prescribed game-time.

"As far as I know he was all good," Skipworth said.

Jake Melksham will return to the senior side next week after serving his two-week suspension and played well against the Tigers, while Leroy Jetta kicked five goals. Rookie ruckman Fraser Thurlow, who may come into contention against the Blues after Paddy Ryder's ankle injury, worked hard.

"Fraser's lucky in a sense that he has played in the NAB Challenge games and has had a little bit of a taste of AFL level, the intensity is different, but I'm sure he will also be discussed in match committee," Skipworth said.

The Tigers' good news out of the game – that reigning best and fairest Daniel Jackson got through unscathed as he pushes to return to the Richmond midfield next week – was soured by a trio of injuries concerns.  
 
Tall forward Liam McBean kicked four goals with some exciting moments, but finished the game in pain after appearing to suffer an ankle injury in the last quarter.
 
The second-year prospect was helped from the field by trainers and received medical attention on the interchange bench. 
 
Fellow forward Aaron Edwards also left the field with a knee injury, while midfielder Chris Knights is hoped to have only had soreness as he returns from a patella tendon injury to his knee last year.
 
Mature-aged recruit Sam Lloyd kicked two goals, while the Tigers' first pick at last year's draft, Ben Lennon, played well across half-back in the first half before sitting out most of the second half.

In other VFL action, Collingwood youngster Ben Kennedy staked his claim for a return to the Magpies' senior side with a best-afield display against North Ballarat.
 
In Collingwood's season-opening game, Kennedy kicked two goals and showed his class after being dropped from the Magpies side following their heavy defeat to Fremantle last week.
 
Magpies Josh Thomas, Alex Fasolo and Peter Yagmoor were also among Collingwood's best
 
North Melbourne small forward Robin Nahas kicked three goals for North Ballarat, while fellow Kangaroos Ben Warren (32 disposals), Liam Anthony (27) and Ben Jacobs (24) also contributed.
 
Sharp Hawthorn forward Jed Anderson kicked two goals in the Box Hill Hawks' 13-point win over Williamstown.
 
Rookie Hawk Ben Ross was named Box Hill's best, with Mitch Hallahan also impressive. First-year half-forward James Sicily kicked two goals.