WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday, June 9, 7.40pm
As each week rolls on this season a ‘season defining game’ always seems to appear, this week that tag could be applied to tonight’s clash between Essendon and Sydney.
Last week Essendon became the first team in the league to lose to Melbourne. Their performance was underwhelming as the ‘Dons fumbled, missed easy shots at goal and could not put the Dees away. The result could have two outcomes depending on this week’s result, it may be a blemish on a terrific start to the season if the win; conversely if they lose this week it could be the start of a mid season slump, reminiscent of last year.
This game also hold significance for the Swans as they are only one game off the top four. If they win they will overtake Essendon on percentage. As the competition is so open this year these games are crucial and if Sydney can win them they my sneak into the top 4.
Both teams welcome back rebounding defenders in the form of Dyson Heppell and Nick Malceski. Sydney lose the grunt of Ben McGlynn and bring in utility Andrejs Everitt.
As for Essendon key back Tayte Pears is out with a knee and he is replaced by Cale Hooker. Nathan Lovett-Murray and Travis Colyer lose their positions and David Myers returns.
Players To Watch
After signing a five year deal earlier in the season Reid has not been able to live up to his potential. The big forward has not fired a shot this season, with his great marking ability he has yet to tear apart a game as he threatened to do last year. His kicking for goal has also been off but this game provides a great opportunity for him to make an impact in the perfect conditions at Etihad stadium.
Richards is one of the unsung heroes of the competition: week in week out he is able to shut out one of the opposition’s key forwards. This week he could face a multitude of opponents including Patty Ryder, Stewart Crameri and Michael Hurley. Regardless of which one he gets if he stops them from having any influence it will be one less avenue to goal for the Bombers.
The captain was one of the few that performed last week and the Dons will need a repeat effort this week. The Sydney midfield is full of great contested ball players, if Essendon want the game to be played on their terms they will need to win the contested ball which is where Watson comes in. If he can feed the runners and hit the scoreboard as he did last week, Essendon should win.
The Essendon ruckman is hardly one of the stars of the competition but he needs to put in a good performance this week. He will be up against Shane Mumford who if on top will make sure Sydney can control the midfield and contested ball. If Bellchambers can be competitive, it not only gives his midfielders an edge but allows Ryder to spend more time forward stretching the Swan’s defense.
Sydney as they always have done are flying under the radar. They seem to have adapted well to the loss of Goodes and are sitting very comfortably in 5th. However they do not travel well in Melbourne and Etihad will pose troubles.
Essendon have to bounce back last week was unacceptable and if they want to make the top 4 they need win games like this. The Bombers could not sustain their early season form last year but they are now more mature and have an extra pre-season under their belt.
As a result they should be too good for Sydney.
Essendon by 14
B: Dyson Heppell, Dustin Fletcher, Cale Hooker
HB: Jake Carlisle, Kyle Hardingham, Courtenay Dempsey
C: Ricky Dyson, Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton
HF: Jake Melksham, Stewart Crameri, David Zaharakis
F: Alwyn Davey, Patrick Ryder, Michael Hurley
Foll: Tom Bellchambers, Heath Hocking, Sam Lonergan
I/C: Angus Monfries, Leroy Jetta, David Myers, Ben Howlett
Emg: Nathan Lovett-Murray, Henry Slattery, Kyle Reimers
B: Alex Johnson, Ted Richards, Rhyce Shaw
HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy, Martin Mattner
C: Lewis Jetta, Josh P. Kennedy, Nicholas Smith
HF: Kieren Jack, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Ryan O’Keefe
F: Trent Dennis-Lane, Sam Reid, Craig Bird
Foll: Shane Mumford, Jude Bolton, Daniel Hannebery
I/C: Nick Malceski, Mike Pyke, Andrejs Everitt, Tony Armstrong
Emg: Jesse White, Nathan Gordon, Harry Cunningham