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Eagles relish Essendon test

Sportal May 11, 2012, 4:17 pm
Shannon Hurn

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West Coast assistant David Teague has earmarked Saturday night's clash with Essendon as the perfect yardstick and rates the Bombers forward pressure as the best in the AFL.

The undefeated yet depleted Eagles head into the contest at Etihad Stadium on the back of six straight wins, but Teague warned his side would need to be wary coming out of their back half given the pace and tackling pressure that's been demonstrated by the Bombers' forwards so far this season.

Teague labelled Leroy Jetta and Alwyn Davey as the best exponents for Essendon but insisted the Eagles were well prepared for the onslaught having focussed heavily on that specific threat all pre-season.

"A lot of clubs over the last couple of years have been really trying to put that forward pressure on, of late Essendon are probably leading the way so that's something we have got to be aware of," Teague said on Friday.

"With our ball movement out of the back half we've got to be smart and with their pressure we need to be able to handle it.

"But we've prepared for that all pre-season, that's something we've done a lot of work on with our forwards, putting pressure on our backs in a match simulation so we're prepared for that."

With Essendon full of confidence after five wins in their opening six games, Teague labelled Saturday's encounter as a challenge West Coast were relishing.

"Essendon are playing some great footy at the moment, they've played two teams in the top eight we probably haven't done that yet so it's a good challenge for us," he said.

"Playing Essendon in form is what we want.

"It's hard to say at this stage with the form lines of a lot of sides - Hawthorn are touted as a very good side, they gave us a very good challenge even North Melbourne last week."

With the Bombers also suffering a series of injuries throughout the start to this campaign, Teague said their opponents' improvement lay in the ability of their second-tier players to step up to the challenge.

"They've obviously had injuries as well so they've had to change their side so it's probably the players coming in that are stepping up," he said.

"You have (Jobe) Watson and (Brent) Stanton who are having great seasons but probably their forward line has changed a little bit with (Michael) Hurley out... just their variety of goal kickers is something they would be happy about."

Despite topping the ladder, the Eagles have been hit hard by injuries with Adam Selwood, Andrew Embley, Josh Kennedy, Nic Naitanui , Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski among those ruled out, but Teague said it has been the depth in the squad that has seen them through.

Small forward Ryan Neates has been handed his debut as a result and is someone the Eagles hope can apply forward pressure.

"Ryan... he's been playing some really good football for Claremont up around half forward, he's kicking goals so we're looking forward to him coming in and putting some pressure on," he said.

"He's very quick I think someone said he's the smallest player in the AFL, he's got speed so we're looking for him to use that speed."

Teague also insisted Beau Waters would line up for his 100th game despite taking no part in training on Friday and paid tribute to the courageous Eagle after a long slog to reach the milestone.

"For such a quality player to take eight years to get there, what he's been through some of the injuries he's had, (is remarkable)," he said.

"For his ability after those injuries to come back and play the way he does, he gets a lot of respect from not only the club but the whole AFL industry so it's a great effort by Beau."

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