AT first glance a four-day break plus a star-studded Essendon team adds up to a lot of trouble for the Bendigo Gold.
Everything points towards a tough day for the Gold in the Good Friday clash at the QEO.
Gold coach Aussie Jones disagrees, saying the David versus Goliath nature of the contest brings out the best in his squad.
“The challenging week we’ve had coming off a short break has actually brought the team together,’’ Jones said.
“They know they have their backs against the wall, but they relish the challenge and enjoy trying to prove people wrong.
“Everyone knows the Gold will have a dip. The challenge for us this week is to maintain it.”
The Gold have shown some encouraging signs in their opening two defeats to Geelong and Werribee.
They were in the game for the best part of three quarters, but have dropped away in the final term.
Wedderburn teenager Jordan Hargreaves was a shining light in last week’s loss to Weeribee, restricting the highly-rated Majak Daw to just 15 possessions.
This week he’ll have the task of stopping Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers.
“It’s a big couple of weeks for a 19-year-old from Wedderburn,’’ Jones said of Hargreaves.
“Jordy sticks to his role really well and he ensured Daw had no influence on the game last week.
“It’s another great learning experience for him this week.”
Small forward Alex Pollock returns to the Gold line-up for the first time in nearly 12 months after recovering from a knee reconstruction.
Pollock has played a couple of games with Bridgewater in the Loddon Valley FNL this season.
“Alex has done a huge job to get back,’’ Jones said.
“He’s been doing full training for two months, but he’ll still be a touch underdone.
“We’ve been lacking a bit of crumbing ability inside forward 50, so he’ll fill that role for us.”
Essendon has a powerful midfield unit led by former Bendigo skipper Ben Duscher, Leroy Jetta and Nick O’Brien.
Jones said he was likely to tag one of the trio, but was mindful of not going too defensive through the middle of the ground.
“At times in the past two weeks we’ve outplayed Geelong and Werribee, who are both very good sides,’’ Jones said.
“What we have to do better this week is defending better when the opposition has control of the game.
“We have to get the balance between attack and defence.”
The Bendigo-Essendon clash starts at 2.30pm.