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Bombers keen to set up run to AFL finals

25/06/2009 07:08:33 PM Comments (0)

Essendon have upped the stakes for their crucial AFL clash with Carlton on Friday night, saying it looms as the launching pad for the remainder of their season.

With the young Bombers proving one of the year's surprise packets, they tackle a Carlton side motivated following an early season loss to Essendon and also needing a win to maintain their finals charge.

Both teams have 6-6 win-loss records and can consolidate a spot in the top eight with victory at the MCG.

The Bombers used hard-fought wins over the Blues and Collingwood to build a better-than-expected first half of the season and believe they can do the same with similar results for the rest of the year.

"To beat Carlton on a big stage was fantastic, then to back it up beating Collingwood was another good victory and to beat those sides to go into the remainder of the first half of the year was good," forward Angus Monfries said.

"If we can win this game we can get ahead of the ledger, get to 7-6.

"We've got a couple more hard games after that - Collingwood the following week, Sydney, then the Western Bulldogs.

"We're playing some very good sides and if we can win a few of those games, it will set us up for the last half of the year."

Carlton onballer Kade Simpson agreed with the significance of the match, which is expected to draw a crowd of up to 80,000.

"Every game's a big game for us from now on in, we need to win another six at least to make finals, so every game's a big game," he said.

"But obviously there'll be a big crowd there, supporters love beating Essendon, so it's going to be a big focus and we'll hopefully get the win over them.

"The past couple of years they've had the wood over us and they played some good footy earlier in the year.

"We're looking to get one back on them and hopefully we can get the four points."

Essendon have brought defender Henry Slattery in as a straight swap for suspended Mark McVeigh.

McVeigh earned a one-match ban for striking Melbourne defender Jared Rivers during their match last weekend.

The Bombers also lost defender Adam McPhee with a calf injury, with Nathan Lovett-Murray returning from suspension.

The Blues have regained backman Bret Thornton from a hamstring injury to help combat Bombers tall forward pairing Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas.

Young Essendon defender Tayte Pears is set to be given the task of shutting down Blues spearhead Brendan Fevola.

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