Bombers wary of wounded Saints - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers wary of wounded Saints

By Melissa Woods 15/05/2010 09:41:28 AM Comments (0)

St Kilda's biggest AFL loss in four years means a massive challenge for Essendon when the two teams clash on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

The grand finalists suffered a shock 61-point loss to Carlton, their largest losing margin under coach Ross Lyon, while the Bombers were over-run by Port Adelaide two days earlier and went down by three points.

Essendon utility Sam Lonergan said his side was expecting the Saints to be fired up.

"They're going to put their best foot forward and, coming off a loss last week, they're going to be hungrier than ever, so to match that is what we're going to have to do to win the game," he said.

The 23-year-old said morale was still high in the Bombers camp, despite a less than impressive start to the season, with only two wins.

Last season in round 20 Essendon had a two-point victory over the Saints at the same venue.

"You never want to be where we are at on the ladder," Lonergan said.

"But the more time you spend on feeling sorry for yourself the less you get to focus on the upcoming week.

"That's where we stand as a group, you're not going to get anywhere if you're feeling sorry for yourself for 22 rounds of football.

"We need to win a couple in a row and I guess really set our season up for the second half of the year and prepare to play good footy."

The Sunday afternoon match is significant for veteran forward Dustin Fletcher, who will play his 320th career game placing him in equal second on the all-time Essendon games-played list with Dick Reynolds.

Lonergan described the 35-year-old as the "heart and soul" of the club.

"The entire list respect him more than anyone I've ever met in my life so he's a great person for this club, always has been, always will be," he said.

Assistant coach Scott Camporeale was also glowing about Fletcher's contribution.

"He's a real leader, not in terms of ranting and raving, just the way he goes about preparing for an AFL game and an AFL season," Camporeale said.

"You don't play 300-plus games if you don't do any of the right things.

"He's an outstanding mentor for Tayte Pears and Cale Hooker, who are young defenders coming on in the game."

The Bombers will miss small defender Henry Slattery, who is out for up to a month with rib damage, but young star Michael Hurley will play despite suffering from knee soreness.

While Camporeale said the Bombers felt they were starting to be rewarded for their hard work, he said St Kilda was a massive challenge.

"We stuck to our guns and what we wanted to do after the last two weeks has really come off in terms of game style and how we want to go about it, so that's really important going into a pretty big game against St Kilda," Camporeale said.

"We've just got to match them in terms of inside contested footy and our defensive pressure which is what Carlton did pretty well on the weekend."

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