ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten said the embarrassing performance against Sydney in round nine provided the perfect motivation for Saturday's gutsy response at the MCG.
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The Bombers were smashed by the Swans by 58 points in round nine, but found a way to fight back from 26 points down and multiple lead changes to win for only the fourth time of the season when they held on by nine points on Saturday.
"Look it was (mentioned during the week), absolutely. Part of the build-up when preparing to play opponents is how you played them last time. Guys certainly weren't pleased with that, it was a really, really poor performance last time we played them," Rutten told reporters in his post-game press conference on Saturday.
"The fixture comes around to play them in six weeks time again. In some respects, that was advantageous for us because the guys were really keen to leave a different perception with the opposition this week. I think we've got that on the back of last time we played them.
"I think it's been building over the last three, four, five weeks. Today you could almost feel or sense a bit of that belief growing as the game went on.
"The Sydney footy club are such a quality team; they've been that for a long period of time; we respect them and understand what they're about. To beat Sydney any time is a really strong performance."
Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel wore the brunt of the fallout in May following an incident with Sydney co-captain Luke Parker, but responded with a strong performance, collecting 20 disposals and six clearances.
"I've spoken about Dylan the last few weeks in a similar vein. I think his last six or seven weeks, he's been such a strong role model at the footy club for us, not because he's playing well every week, but the way he's been able to find a formula we're starting to see that really consistently from 'Dyl'," Rutten said.
"We know what sort of player Dylan is, that's why we got him to the footy club, I think the way he's worked through the year and the performances he's putting up is a credit to him."
Just over a month after being plucked from the Western Jets via the Mid-Season Rookie Draft, Massimo D’Ambrosio produced another performance that suggests he has a bright future in the AFL.
Rutten praised the 19-year-old after the rookie collected a career-high 23 disposals, six marks and five rebound 50s, flaunting his composure and precise foot skills.
"I think he is still pinching himself; everything is still brand new for him," he said.
"I think he is a great little player. He has real infectious personality the way he goes about it. I thought he was great. The way he backs himself in and hits targets, creates stuff for us, he still defends hard for us. He has been really good."
Sydney was left to rue a wasteful day in front of goal, particularly in the third quarter when they kicked eight behinds in a row before two late goals put them 11 points in front at the final change.
Swans coach John Longmire wouldn't be drawn on the wider ramifications of the loss which could cost Sydney a spot in the eight by the end of the weekend if Collingwood and Richmond both win, but knows his side let a win slip.
"It is not something that I sit back and ponder. Straight after a game like that you're just looking at the mechanics of the game: What did we get right? What did we get wrong? That's what we’ll focus on," Longmire told reporters.
"We gave ourselves every chance to win the game. We had plenty of chances, particularly in the third term. We just needed to finish off some of the work there and give ourselves a bigger buffer at three-quarter time. We probably let it slip through our fingers at different times in the last quarter."
Sydney faces a difficult fortnight ahead with the Western Bulldogs at the SCG followed by Fremantle at Optus Stadium.