Bombers start Eagles planning early - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers start Eagles planning early

05/05/2011 05:39:35 PM Comments (0)

Essendon got a surprising headstart to their preparations for Sunday's AFL clash with fellow improvers West Coast.

At three-quarter time in last weekend's 133-point demolition of Gold Coast, the thoughts of Bombers coach James Hird switched straight to the Eagles.

And he made sure his players were thinking ahead too.

It's the type of luxury a club could afford in a game they led by 111 points at the last change and 139 at the final siren.

The only time the Suns got any traction was when they outscored Essendon by five goals to three in the second term.

"If the second quarter had been the last quarter I would have been a little bit upset and a little worried," Hird said on Thursday about what such a one-sided encounter could mean for the victors.

"We spoke at three-quarter time about actually preparing for the West Coast game, the way we wanted to play in the West Coast game.

"It was nice to be in a situation where we could do that.

"We're mindful that if you're playing ahead of the ball and you're kicking goals, sometimes with the ease that the guys were doing it, you get away from the things that win you important games - which this one is."

So much for the old mantra of taking it one week at a time.

Essendon and West Coast both sit inside the top eight after six rounds, a far cry from the woes of 2010 when they finished 14th and 16th respectively as West Coast claimed a first-ever wooden spoon.

The ruck battle on Sunday shapes as an intriguing one, with resurgent Eagle Dean Cox and the exciting Nic Naitanui squaring off against Bombers trio Paddy Ryder, David Hille and Tom Bellchambers.

But Hird was at pains to insist his big three brought plenty of positional flexibility to the table.

"David Hille and Paddy Ryder can play key forward, Paddy Ryder can play key back and Tom Bellchambers can also play a key forward role," said Hird.

"I don't consider them as three ruckmen.

"Any of those three can play in the ruck at certain times, but I wouldn't be too caught up that we're playing three ruckmen because when we play them like that they're not seen as ruckmen to us."

Two of West Coast's miserable tally of four wins last year came against Essendon, including the round-16 clash at Etihad Stadium, when Mark LeCras helped himself to a career-high haul of 12 goals.

Evergreen Essendon defender Dustin Fletcher returns for his 334th game, a day after his 36th birthday, having missed the demolition of the Suns due to a sore knee.

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