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Can Essendon stop the Sydney juggernaut from rolling into week two of the AFL finals series
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SYDNEY already has created history by overcoming a 0-6 start to qualify for the AFL finals series.

The Swans reached sixth spot with a phenomenal run of 14 wins in their last 16 matches (with the two losses being to Hawthorn by six points).

The team that has come closest to the Swans during this ominous run is Essendon with a one-point game at the SCG on June 23 – that Friday Night Football epic with the meltdown in the Essendon defence in the final minute as veteran Brendon Goddard failed to create meaningful rebound from a kick-in from a behind.

If any team can walk the tightrope to the premiership with four consecutive four knock-out finals, it is the Swans.

And how much does that grand final loss last season add to the agenda the Swans are working this month?

ATTACKING BLOWTORCH

IT was a bad start in the first six weeks, but look at the way the Swans do not waste time seeking scoreboard authority in the past six weeks.

They started with opening terms of 7.5 against Geelong at Kardinia Park, 8.2 against Fremantle at the SCG and 5.1 against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

And they finished with 15.5 in the second half against Carlton at the SCG to make a futile charge for fourth spot in Round 23.

Most critical note about the Swans is they start this final series with no fear – any opponent, any venue and any time and Sydney is up for the challenge and knows it has succeeded recently.

IS ONE FINAL ENOUGH?

WEST COAST premiership coach John Worsfold has redefined himself – and most importantly Essendon – by taking the Bombers from wooden spoon last season (when the club’s best talent was on the sidelines serving the WADA-imposed bans) to a winning record, seventh position and an elimination final against Sydney at the SCG.

So is that enough? Can it be just one finals appearance that declares the dark clouds have finally moved away from Tullamarine and Essendon can expect more next season rather than this September?

The script might have been better had Essendon stayed in eighth spot to face Port Adelaide in the knock-out finals. Rising to seventh – on Melbourne’s slip-up – was no bonus.

DEFENCE, DEFENCE, DEFENCE

WHEN Essendon reflects on how lapses in defence have been damaging this season, there is the stand-out moment that allows Sydney forward Gary Rohan to score the winning goal after the siren in the Round 14 match-up at the SCG.

And there is no doubt the Bombers will be doing significant work in the off-season on their defensive strategies.

The Bombers have conceded on average this season 91 points – and seven times in 22 games allowed the opposition to crack the watershed 100-point barrier.

The confidence-boosting moments that allowed Sydney power forward Lance Franklin to claim the Coleman Medal as the AFL leading goalkicker with a 10-goal haul against Carlton would not have put the Essendon defenders at ease.

THE ODDS

MATCH

Sydney $1.16

Essendon $5.25

FLAG

Sydney $4.25

Essendon $51

MEDICAL ROOMS

SWANS

S. Naismith (hip) available

R. Fox (ankle) test

D. Hannebery (hip) test

T. Papley (knee) test

C. Sinclair (ankle) test

K. Tippett (ankle) test

D. Cameron (shoulder) season

BOMBERS

O. Fantasia (hamstring) test

C. Hooker (leg bone bruising) test

M. Hurley (calf) test

J. Green (foot) uncertain

M. Leuenberger (ankle) uncertain

B. McNiece (neck) season

J. Merrett (leg) season

THIS SEASON

Sydney 11.20 (86) d Essendon 12.13 (85), Round 14 at the SCG.

EARLY CALL

Swans by 31 points

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