Dons wary of Eagles formula
Dons wary of Eagles formula

Essendon coach Mark Thompson is urging the Bombers to play with the same freedom that West Coast have shown in the past fortnight when finals spots go on the line at Etihad Stadium today.

But Thompson has no intention of allowing the Eagles to run through the midfield like they did against Adelaide and Collingwood.

The Eagles have kicked 39 goals in the past two weeks as they've gone on an attacking spree.

Meanwhile Essendon have struggled, losing to Sydney and Richmond while averaging just 67 points per game.

Thompson said the Dons needed to find their best but must also deny the Eagles opportunities.

"They're getting good supply and playing spirit-free football, which is fantastic," he said.

"You try to encourage it every week but unfortunately there are pressures in this game.

"They're not playing with any pressure at the moment.

"They've not got any weights on top of their shoulders or their backs. That's the attitude we need to take into the game.

"If the ball is down there I'd be worried. At our best over a four-quarter period, I'd like to think they'll not have a lot of ball down there. And the ball that they do get will be under pressure when they kick it in."

Essendon's hopes of matching West Coast's goal-kicking power suffered a blow when key forward Jake Carlisle was ruled out with back spasms.

That will place more pressure on youngster Joe Daniher to perform after he battled against Richmond last week.

Daniher declared himself fit to play against the Tigers as he returned from a collarbone injury but managed just eight disposals and did not kick a goal.

Thompson said Daniher had let the team down and wouldn't have been selected if Carlisle was fit.

"It's all about team," Thompson said.

"If you make a decision based on yourself and not the team then it is not looked upon that well and it becomes a disease.

"I'm all about team. He's only young.

"He'll learn and he's very apologetic. He knew he didn't play well. It might be good that he stayed in the team so he can redeem himself."

West Coast are still without Mark LeCras and also lost Xavier Ellis to a shoulder injury. Simon Tunbridge replaced him.

Essendon brought back captain Jobe Watson from a long-term leg injury while Michael Hibberd, Patrick Ambrose and debutant Ariel Steinberg also came into the team.

They replaced Carlisle, Elliott Kavanagh, Orazio Fantasia and Cory Dell'Olio.

Thompson said Watson would definitely play.

"It's great," Thompson said.

"Early days we didn't think we were going to get him back this year at all. He's excited about footy and that'll add something to the group."

The West Australian

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