Bombers still an AFL finals threat: Hird - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers still an AFL finals threat: Hird

By Sam Lienert 28/08/2011 08:45:48 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach James Hird still believes his Bombers can make a big impression in this year's AFL finals, despite their lead-in form suggesting otherwise.

Essendon had to rely on a late surge to down bottom-placed Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, after allowing the competition's worst side to kick their biggest score of the season and lead by as many as 34 points in the last term.

While Essendon survived 17.18 (120) to 17.11 (113), Hird acknowledged a repeat performance would be "fatal" in an elimination final - almost certainly against Carlton - in a fortnight, with the Bombers having the bye next weekend.

But he insisted wins over top four sides Geelong and West Coast earlier this year showed they deserved to enter the finals as more than just rank outsiders.

"Yes, the side we played against played better than us for the majority of the game tonight, but all in all with the way the season's gone, from where we've come from, we've got to look positively on it," Hird said.

"There's things we want to work on and we have to work on over the next two weeks to be competitive against whoever we're going to play, but overall we're reasonably happy."

The Bombers' finals spot was locked in, regardless of the result, after losses by North Melbourne and Fremantle earlier in the weekend, with the top eight confirmed and match-ups for the first weekend of finals now also virtually locked in.

Collingwood will host West Coast in one qualifying final, with Geelong and Hawthorn to meet in the other, the winners to earn a weekend off and a home preliminary final.

The Blues and Essendon will almost certainly play one elimination final, with Sydney and St Kilda to meet in the other.

It remains uncertain where the Saints and Swans' will play, as the seventh-placed Swans could overtake the sixth-placed Saints.

They will if they down Brisbane at the SCG on Saturday and the Saints lose to Carlton on Saturday night.

In Sunday's other matches, Melbourne handed caretaker coach Todd Viney his first victory, 17.10 (112) to 12.10 (82) over Gold Coast at the MCG.

Richmond charged down Adelaide 17.19 (121) to 15.9 (99) at AAMI Stadium, their third straight win.

Collingwood confirmed the minor premiership by thrashing Fremantle by 80 points in Perth on Friday night, but might lose star Dale Thomas to suspension for the start of the finals.

Hawthorn downed the Western Bulldogs by 46 points at the MCG on Saturday, although speedster Cyril Rioli was subbed off with calf soreness.

An emotion-charged Sydney upset Geelong by 13 points at Skilled Stadium on Saturday, the Cats' first loss at the venue in four years.

St Kilda locked the finals door on ninth-placed North Melbourne, with a convincing 65-point win at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, skipper Nick Riewoldt booting five goals.

West Coast downed a gallant Brisbane by eight points at the Gabba on Saturday night, to guarantee their top four berth.

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