Bombers defenders prepare for top Saints - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers defenders prepare for top Saints

By John Salvado 12/05/2009 01:45:29 PM Comments (0)

The big jobs just keep coming for young Essendon key defenders Cale Hooker and Tayte Pears.

Last Friday they performed admirably on Hawthorn kingpins Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead in the Bombers' 44-point upset win.

And it won't get any easier for the duo - or their teammates on Sunday - against unbeaten St Kilda and their powerhouse pair Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke.

"There's probably not many other options (to match up against Riewoldt and Koschitzke)," Essendon coach Matthew Knights said on Tuesday.

"They got the gigs last week against Roughead and Franklin and they're probably a good chance to get the gigs again because that's where we're at at the moment.

"Michael Hurley is still coming back through the VFL, (two-time All Australian defender and 300-gamer) Dustin Fletcher is still two or three weeks away.

I don't mind throwing challenges to young players,.

"They did it admirably last week and I'll probably throw similar challenges to them this week.

"They've just got to play hard and aggressive and I'll back them in to do the job."

Hooker, 20, will be playing just his fifth AFL match against the ladder-leading Saints and 19-year-old Pears his 13th.

Not that their lack of experience bothers the Essendon coach.

"I've always had the philosophy that the game doesn't know how old you are," said Knights.

"No matter how much experience you've had, how many kilos you weigh, how tall you are, when you represent the Essendon footy club you've got to play out of your skin and play to your maximum.

" ... we expect them to win every game.

"At times that's not going to happen because you're going to come up against better opposition, but we go in with that ethos and I think that gives young players confidence."

The Bombers have done well to hold fifth spot on the ladder with a 4-3 win-loss record in light of a long injury list, a situation which should improve in the coming weeks.

Young defender Hurley and former Geelong midfielder Brent Prismall returned in the VFL last weekend for the Bendigo Bombers, while Mark McVeigh (ankle), Andrew Welsh (ankle) and Kyle Reimers (quad) aren't far away.

And 2000 premiership star Scott Lucas responded admirably last weekend after being dropped to the VFL following a sluggish start to 2009.

"Scott went back and did himself proud," said Knights.

"He kicked four goals, but more importantly, his effort and his movement were a lot better and that's what we were looking for."

Knights would not speculate whether that would be enough to earn Lucas an immediate senior recall against St Kilda, with the Bombers unlikely to make many changes to the side which trounced Hawthorn.

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