Bombers can beat the odds again: Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers can beat the odds again: Knights

By Sam Lienert 01/09/2009 07:11:58 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights says his young side have overcome setbacks all year and can do it again against Adelaide in Friday night's AFL elimination final.

The Bombers are rank outsiders to win at AAMI Stadium after confirming captain Matthew Lloyd, ruckman Patrick Ryder and midfielder Sam Lonergan will miss the match through suspension.

Lloyd is out for four matches for his much-publicised head-high bump on Hawthorn's Brad Sewell, ending his season and possibly his career.

But Knights says the bans will not deflate a team that has been defying the odds since losing their two most experienced ruckmen - David Hille and Jason Laycock - to season-ending injuries early in the year.

"I don't really have a problem keeping this group upbeat full stop, they're a fairly resilient group," Knights said.

He said that spirit was evident when they came from as much as 28 points down last Saturday to defeat Hawthorn in an emotional and often violent match to seal their finals berth.

"For our young men to go through that was a great experience," he said.

"For our young men to go through that and win the game was an even better experience."

But reaching the finals for the first time since 2004 is not enough.

"All I can say is this team gives effort, they give energy and if we get our game right we're capable of causing an upset and that's what we're going over to AAMI Stadium to do," he said.

"I spoke to the players after last weekend's game and it's not satisfying enough just to make the finals.

"We've got to try to make an impact, try to win this week and you never know what can happen from that point."

Knights said the decision not to contest striking charges against Ryder and Lonergan, who will each miss just one game, was fairly straightforward.

The decision to accept Lloyd's four-game ban was tougher, with the final call made by the skipper himself, after the club assured him they would go all the way to the appeals board had the veteran forward wanted to.

But Lloyd felt the league's strong stance on head-high contact left little wiggle room and he also wanted to avoid taking teammates' focus from the game.

"On balance, I did not believe that appealing the decision was the right way to go," Lloyd said on the club's website.

"I am also aware that this is an unwanted distraction leading up to a big final for the club and I hope this will be the end of the matter."

On the prospect of the 31-year-old's career ending on such a sour note, Knights said it was too early to speculate.

"There will be a conversation at the end of the year about where the club's going, what role he'll play, how he's going, how his body's feeling," Knights said.

"So he will have to take a number of things into account in making that decision and we will support and respect whatever decision he makes."

Meanwhile, Knights rated Courtenay Dempsey a good chance to return from a hamstring injury, while Mark McVeigh is likely to play despite cracking a bone in his hand during the Hawks clash.

"He's a pretty tough hombre ... if he says to me he's right to go we'll back him in," Knights said.

Tom Bellchambers, Hayden Skipworth, Michael Quinn and Leroy Jetta are others in selection contention.

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