Collingwood poses big task for Bombers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Collingwood poses big task for Bombers

By Roger Vaughan and John Salvado 12/08/2010 06:03:01 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell has declared that the AFL's top side is "miles" from what they want to achieve.

Essendon coach Matthew Knights isn't so sure about that.

A long Friday night looms for the undermanned Bombers when they clash with the Magpies at the MCG.

The last time they played, Collingwood dismantled Essendon in the first term on Anzac Day and flicked them to one side on the way to a commanding 65-point win.

Knights said on Thursday that the Magpies had only improved since then.

"The only difference I will say is that they have upped the ante in all areas - defensively they're sounder and much more foolproof with their energy and tackling and their pressing," Knights said.

"Offensively and with the ball they're scoring at will at the moment it seems.

"They get you in so many ways, It can be (Chris) Dawes or (Travis) Cloke in contested mark situations or it can be (Alan) Didak and (Scott) Pendlebury on the ground, or (Dayne) Beams who plays a terrific role as a forward kicking goals.

"They're strong in all parts of the ground and their team has been really consistent."

Essendon have shown signs this season, beating the Western Bulldogs twice and also upsetting St Kilda a fortnight ago.

But they were woeful last Friday night against Carlton, surrendering in the last term for a 76-point hiding.

Now they have also lost Dustin Fletcher, Alwyn Davey and Jason Winderlich to injury.

"We've got to concentrate on playing better than we did last week," Knights said.

"We had a magnificent win against St Kilda, played at a really high level and showed some glimpses of where we're heading as a group.

"And then to take a couple of steps back last week was hugely disappointing."

Maxwell said there must be no let up against Essendon with the finals only three weeks away.

"We still have too much we have to improve on, we're still miles away from where we need to be if we want to achieve what we want to achieve," he said.

"We need these three weeks to make sure we're playing the way we need to play.

"Last week (against Geelong) obviously was a good result in that we got a win, but there are so many things we have to improve on."

One of the keys in Essendon's win over St Kilda was their ability to stop the Saints' drive from defence.

But that will be an even tougher task against Collingwood.

"I think Harry (O'Brien), Nick Maxwell and Heath Shaw all require defensive forwards," Knights said.

"So which one do you go after?

"It's certainly in our planning - Angus (Monfries) did a great job on Sam Fisher the week before, but they've got three or four defenders who defend, but attack brutally as well.

"You can't just concentrate on one."

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