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VFL Dons primed for finals

Essendon VFL will look to its experienced senior players to lead the team deep into September, according to the Captain, Nick O’Brien.

The Bombers finished the home-and-away season with ten wins and eight losses, setting up an Elimination Final against Footscray.

“The older guys, Stants and Howlett, are going to be really important for us,” O’Brien said.

“They have years of experience. They set us up well around the ground and see the game really well.

“We will probably call on them and the leadership from those guys.

“Finals are always a bit more of a physically intense game so those older bodies are always going to be useful to us in stopping the Dogs.”

Injuries to senior listed players in recent weeks have opened the door for an increased number of VFL listed players to get an opportunity in the lead up to the finals.

Reigning best and fairest Aaron Heppell is one player who is finding form at the right time of the year and his proven ability to stand up in big games will be important, according to O’Brien.

“Heppell has had a really good couple of final series over the years. He is someone that is going to be really important in the coming weeks,” O’Brien said.

“The young guys from the AFL list have really stood up all season, they’ve been really impressive for us.

“We will be looking for everyone to play their role, to the best of their ability, throughout our finals series.”

The Bombers enter the finals having won three of their last four matches.

“The early part of the season we were a little bit inconsistent,” O’Brien said.

“Towards the back end of the year we have gained some real consistent form and we’ve been able to beat some teams that will feature later in the season.

“We have achieved our first objective – making finals.

“To win a final would be the next real positive thing for the group.

“Our last couple of years, we have proven we can push forward and hopefully go as close to winning a flag as we can.

“It will be a pretty normal week for us. With it being a Sunday game, we will get a full week of training in.”

The Dons have played the Dogs twice this season, with each side taking home four premiership points, with one win each.

In both games the final margin was no more than five points.

“They value the contest the same way that we do, it’s a bit of a strength of theirs,” O’Brien said.

“I’m expecting another pretty close result and they will be keen to go as deep as they can in finals, without their AFL side playing finals.

“They are pretty balanced across the field.

“I don’t think there is anyone in particular that we will be looking at but certainly their midfield has always been really strong.

“If we can get on top of them there, it goes a long way towards winning on the day.”

Essendon will take on Footscray at Fortburn Stadium on Sunday from 2:40pm.

Tickets for the elimination final can be purchased at vfl.com.au/presale