Bombers brace for red-hot Swans at SCG

Essendon's 75-point win over St Kilda last week set tongues wagging but they will face a stern test of their credentials against Sydney at the SCG.

DYSON HEPPELL.
DYSON HEPPELL. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Essendon coach Ben Rutten hopes the lessons learned from his team's thumping loss to Port Adelaide will serve them well when they take on red-hot Sydney at the SCG on Thursday night.

The Bombers breathed life into their AFL season last week with a thumping 75-point win over St Kilda.

Confidence at Essendon is riding high after that win but the Bombers are set to receive a far sterner test when they take on the Swans, who have defied the doubters to produce a stunning 3-0 start to the season.

Premiership fancies Richmond and Brisbane are among Sydney's victims, with the Swans easily eclipsing the 100-point mark in all three of their games this year.

Thursday's game away from home shapes as somewhat of a litmus test for the Bombers - similar to their round-two clash with the Power in Adelaide.

Essendon gave up the first five goals of the match that day in a 54-point loss, and Rutten hopes his team will put on a far better performance this time around.

"They're going as well as any team in the comp," Rutten said.

"To be able to go up to Sydney - if we think back to round two, we went over to Port Adelaide and again, similar situation - playing away against a team in good form.

"(Against Port Adelaide) we didn't start great at all, we gave up five goals pretty quickly.

"So that'll be a big focus for us, to start well but our guys are looking forward to another opportunity to go and travel and play against a really good team."

Sydney have been boosted by the return of star forward Lance Franklin, while the injury-hit Bombers welcome back skipper Dyson Heppell.

Franklin replaces fellow big Hayden McLean, but midfielder James Rowbottom (knee) wasn't deemed ready for an AFL return.

Heppell comes in for the injured Mason Redman (hamstring).

The Swans' rising crop of youngsters have played a key role in the team's hot form but they're not getting carried away just yet.

Sydney midfielder Callum Mills said his team would be wary of an Essendon side that piled on 22 goals against the Saints last week.

"They play really exciting footy," Mills said.

"They put up over 140-odd points on the weekend against St Kilda, who are a great side.

"We're going to be wary of that.

"They've got a lot of damaging players that can really hurt you."