Essendon has kick-started its finals challenge and is a real chance to knock over a vulnerable Geelong next week, according to Bombers midfielder Dyson Heppell.
The Dons held off a fast-finishing Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday night – after getting off the mark with seven goals straight in the first term – to record their seventh win of the season.
The next three weeks shape as season-defining for the club, with games against Geelong, Port Adelaide and Collingwood.
In the rooms after the match a jubilant Heppell was relishing Friday night's contest against the Cats, who went down by 40 points to Gold Coast’s young team of tyros on Saturday.
''I heard they got done today. Obviously they’re a bit vulnerable then at the moment. We can’t wait to tackle Geelong next week, should be awesome.''
Despite the distractions of the show-cause notices for alleged use of illegal supplements, Heppell said the club was aiming to make – and have an impact on – finals.
''It’s games like them [against Geelong, Port and Collingwood] that we have to win. Obviously disappointing result last week [against Melbourne], and to bounce back like this was outstanding.
''It gives us a real shot to make the eight. We certainly want to make finals; we want to be a big chance in finals.''
Heppell, and Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson, both nominated the role played by swooping half-back Michael Hibberd as pivotal in setting up the win. Hibberd had 30 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency, plus six rebound-50s.
''When Adelaide came back at us I think [the key was] our ability for our spare in the backline to have a real impact on that game, and for us to be able to control the ball and slow it down, keep it on our terms,'' Heppell said.
Elliott Kavanagh, Essendon’s first-round pick from 2011, was promoted from sub to starting on the field this week for his sixth match in red and black. Heppell lauded his inside contribution.
''Kav was outstanding tonight in his contest work. He’s been trudging away in the VFL, played some outstanding footy, and I think his ability to step up and play a big role for the side tonight was outstanding. He’s only a light frame but I thought his contest work was outstanding.''