Shoring up finals spot is Roos' priority - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Shoring up finals spot is Roos' priority

By Sam Lienert 16/08/2008 12:42:01 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne ruckman-forward David Hale says the 'Roos are aiming to wrap up an AFL finals spot by defeating Carlton at Telstra Dome on Sunday, before eyeing a top four berth.

While the fifth-placed 'Roos are well in contention for the double chance, Hale said they could not afford to focus on that yet.

"We'd like to wrap up a finals spot to start with, I don't think we're guaranteed yet," Hale said.

"We're just focusing on I think we have to win one more game to make the finals, so we've got three chances to do that.

"So hopefully we can knock that over this weekend and then if we're guaranteed a spot we can try to aim as high as we can."

While the 'Roos are in strong form, having won their past five matches, they are expecting a strong challenge from the Blues, who need to win to remain in finals contention.

Carlton's midfield poses the biggest threat, the Blues completely dominating that area in a big win over Port Adelaide last round despite being thrashed in the ruck.

It has been a common theme for Carlton this year and Hale said he and in-form fellow Kangaroos ruckman Drew Petrie were aware that winning hit-outs would not necessarily give their team the midfield edge on Sunday.

"Obviously (Carlton) have got a lot of top draft picks that are midfielders, so they've got a pretty good on-ball brigade and we think we've got a pretty good on-ball brigade as well," Hale said.

"Hit-outs are hit-outs in the end but it depends where you're putting them. We'll obviously try to give our blokes first use if we can.

"But obviously if we can follow up on the ground as well and become an extra midfielder with the tackling and pressure and stuff that we've been working on.

"That's going to help the guys like Brent Harvey obviously around us to get the ball down to our forward line."

Petrie and Hale have been shining lights for the 'Roos during the absence of the club's No.1 ruckman Hamish McIntosh, who will miss his eighth match with a knee injury on Sunday before a likely return next week.

Hale said he had enjoyed the added responsibility, but McIntosh's return would add to the team's flexibility.

"We knew we were going to get that role when he went down so we took it on and obviously he's been playing very good footy, Drewie," Hale said.

"Hopefully when (McIntosh) slots back in we can continue and either Drewie can go forward or I can go forward again and we can play there a bit more often."

The Kangaroos have regained captain Adam Simpson from a hip injury but lost key forward Nathan Thompson (ankle), while the Blues named an unchanged side.

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