With both sides entering the season under such high expectations, their opening fortnights have been extremely underwhelming. The Dees were overpowered by Port Adelaide in Round One and embarrassed by the Cats the following week. The Bombers have fared equally badly with a humiliating defeat to the Giants in Round One followed by another disappointing performance against the Saints.
What will they produce under the bright lights of Friday Night Football? Will it be the exciting contest we expected when the fixture was released or will it underwhelm like both sides have in the seasons first two weeks?
Last Five Meetings
|2018||Rd 6||Melb||16.12 (108)||Ess||10.12 (72)||ES||35,964|
|2017||Rd 6||Melb||17.10 (112)||Ess||10.14 (74)||ES||44,040|
|2016||Rd 2||Ess||11.14 (80)||Melb||10.7 (67)||MCG||50,424|
|2015||Rd 15||Ess||10.9 (69)||Melb||7.18 (60)||MCG||38,861|
|2014||Rd 13||Melb||12.6 (78)||Ess||10. 17 (77)||MCG||44,626|
Melbourne has held sway in the contests between the two sides in recent times, winning the last two, three of the last five and six of the last ten. Despite this, Essendon has the edge in recent MCG encounters winning two of the last three at the home of football.
Five reasons to watch
We might sound like broken records but we at The Pinch Hitters love the way Clayton Oliver goes about his footy. Last week against the Cats, despite his team being soundly beaten in contested footy and around the ground, the 21-year-old had a game-high 25 contested possessions and developed leather poisoning with 44 touches. Watch out for Oliver once again leading the way as the Dees attempt to make a statement this week after a shaky start to 2019.
After the Bombers 2018 season, there was a lot of faith placed in the idea that in 2019 we would see the team that won 10 of their last 14 rather than just two of their first eight. Their meek effort in round two against the Saints after the embarrassment of Round One, suggests we may have been mistaken. Another performance like these will confirm it.
No more Melbourne forward line misfiring
There was some snickering when Jack Viney, despite the 80-point defeat to Geelong, expressed a belief his team had actually improved from their Round One effort. Despite only kicking six goals, Melbourne had 72 Inside
Max Gawn v Tom Bellchambers
Gawn has struggled to rediscover his All-Australian form of last year and Bellchambers too has not been at his best, although he was dominant in the ruck contests against the Saints. Expect to see an intriguing battle as both men attempt to impact the contest.
Apologies to both supporter groups but from the outside looking in, the fallout afterward will be entertaining to watch. Both supporter groups have high expectations for 2019 which will make an 0-3 start difficult to swallow. Expect membership cards and scarves to be burnt by the dozen after the final siren sounds.
Hard to believe but the favourite has won this contest just once in the last ten years which makes an already difficult to tip match that little bit harder. Both teams have been deplorable so far which means that anybody claiming to know with certainty who will win is a liar. Melbourne will win by 15 points.