THE WESTERN Bulldogs have made a handy start in their bid to atone for last week's hugely disappointing loss to Carlton when they take on a red-hot Essendon at Metricon Stadium tonight - and a first-gamer has delivered the first half's biggest highlight.

BOMBERS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats

Coach Luke Beveridge made a statement at the selection table by dropping four players, including 2016 flag hero Toby McLean.

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Match Previews R7: Essendon v Western Bulldogs

Sportsbet's Nathan Brown and Matthew Richardson preview the game between the Bombers and Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium

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High draft pick (No.15 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft) Cody Weightman comes into the side for his debut game and he wasted no time making an impact, with a strong grab and an outrageous banana goal from the boundary line with his first kick.


Superboot Matt Suckling, defender Hayden Crozier, and Lachie Young have also been recalled to the Dogs' side. 

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The Dogs, however, are running into a high-flying Bombers outfit that could leapfrog second-placed Collingwood on the ladder with a win tonight, despite having a game in hand.

Essendon has recalled Mason Redman and will blood first-gamer Ned Cahill, replacing suspended star Dylan Shiel and also Martin Gleeson, who has been managed. 

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The young Bomber who's suddenly made dangerous Dons 'sustainable'

Neroli Meadows and Champion Data's Daniel Hoyne preview the Friday night matchup between the Bombers and Bulldogs

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Conor McKenna has been named to play after having finger surgery on Tuesday and will be given until the last minute to be passed fit for the 7.50pm AEST clash. 

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The Bulldogs have recently had the wood over Essendon and last year they clobbered the Dons to the tune of 134 points.

But Beveridge said during the week there's not a lot his side could take from that game

"We haven't really gone to school too much on that. They've changed significantly since then, not just personnel wise but the way that they're playing."