Fi­nals-fo­cused Bombers wary of a Met­ri­con trap

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - ED JACK­SON

ESSENDON is well aware its AFL match to­day against cel­lar-dweller Gold Coast will be a test of pa­tience.

The Bombers head to Met­ri­con Sta­dium hav­ing surged into the top eight on the back of four straight wins.

Their op­po­nents are rock bot­tom and on a 13-game los­ing streak where they’ve been con­ced­ing an av­er­age of 104 points a game.

It is a mis­match on form and per­for­mance, but af­ter Carl­ton were made to bat­tle to a 24-point win over the Suns last week­end, the Bombers are ex­pect­ing a sim­i­lar fight from the hosts to­day.

“We want to put some pres­sure on them early and hope­fully hit the score­board,” Bombers as­sis­tant coach Ben Rut­ten said.

“I think it was Carl­ton’s last quar­ter where they started to push away and that’s kind of hap­pened a lit­tle bit with them, so we’re not ex­pect­ing to be blowing them out in the first quar­ter, that’s for sure.

“If it takes ’til the last quar­ter to crack them, then that’s what we’ll do. We’ve just got to stick to our task.”

The Bombers are with­out Conor McKenna while he at­tends his brother’s wed­ding in Ire­land and Dyson Hep­pell is in­jured.

Rut­ten said one in­clu­sion, Zac Clarke, would have a big role lim­it­ing the in­flu­ence of Suns ruck­man Jar­rod Witts.

“The ruck bat­tle is the one that’s ob­vi­ously im­por­tant for the game and they’ve sort of built their game around that,” Rut­ten said.

“Witts is a huge man and we’ve brought Zac Clarke back into the team. We’re not nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect­ing him to get up and over the top of it, but if he can ... make the hitout less of an ad­van­tage for them (that) is what we’re af­ter.”

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