Knights stays upbeat despite losses - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights stays upbeat despite losses

By Roger Vaughan 19/06/2010 04:28:02 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights is still eyeing the AFL top eight despite a three-game losing streak.

The Bombers go into the mid-season break with only five wins from 13 matches, two games out of eighth spot and with a poor percentage of 89.14.

They were gallant on Friday night against Hawthorn, before Lance Franklin's final-term heroics turned the game and led his team to a 16-point win.

Despite the Bombers' plight, Knights has seen some positive signs over the past few weeks and remains upbeat about their prospects.

"I have felt over the last six or eight weeks as a club and a team that we have really moved forward, our footy has been a lot more consistent," he said.

"I think we have been in seven of those eight games although Geelong really blew us away last week.

"We've certainly been thereabouts, which has been pleasing, but it's very frustrating to go into the break with three losses.

"We have got a lot of work to do in the second half of the year."

The Bombers should regain ruckman David Hille and Angus Monfries after the break, but they will sweat on the video review after Hawks midfielder Chance Bateman was left dazed from a clash late in the game.

Knights was left ruing Essendon's poor opening, where the Hawks had a 29-point lead midway through the second term.

"It was really disappointing in the first quarter, to give up 18 inside-50s and they really got hold of us around the stoppages," he said.

"That was probably the tale in the end, I think it was 18 points at quarter-time and it ended up being 16 at the end of the game."

He admitted the unusual ploy of playing Beau Muston as a defensive forward on Bombers veteran Dustin Fletcher paid off for the Hawks.

"I have enormous regard for 'Lanky' (Fletcher) as a player, he and (Matthew) Scarlett in my view have been the best key defenders in the game for over a decade now," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said post-match.

Fletcher still played well, but Muston was outstanding and kicked three goals.

"For Muston to kick three goals - if he had one, that was probably acceptable, but probably three is too many," Knights said.

"In not a high-scoring game, that's fairly telling, three goals from Muston."

But Essendon's Andrew Welsh was outstanding in his tagging role on in-form Hawks midfielder Luke Hodge.

"Welsh deserves a big tick for that one, I thought he played his heart out," Knights said.

"He's gone from (Gary) Ablett Jr to Hodge in the last two weeks ... they're both special players.

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