Where and when: MCG, Saturday April 13, 2.10pm AEST
Last time they met: Gabba, round 12, 2018: Brisbane 8.14 (62) defeated by Essendon 12.12 (84)
Essendon controlled the contest from start to finish away from home in a win that came as the Bombers made a late (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt at making the finals. Jake Stringer kicked three goals from 22 disposals.
What it means for Essendon: The Bombers can square their season at 2-2 with a win. After a poor start to the season, Essendon was able to notch its first win of the year last week with a solid victory over Melbourne and can even things if they can get over the Lions.
What it means for Brisbane: The Lions are on fire, and a fourth in a row would put a finals appearance well and truly on the radar for Chris Fagan’s men. Spirits are high, the Lions are playing attracting and attractive footy, and a win at the MCG – after already claiming one at Marvel Stadium this season – would be a terrific first block of the year.
How Essendon wins: Essendon has to slow the Lions’ midfield, which has dominated in the early stages of this season. Will coach John Worsfold send someone to shut down Brisbane recruit Lachie Neale, who is in brilliant form and cutting up teams at the centre clearances? It’s worth considering.
How Brisbane wins: With Shaun McKernan out through injury, the Bombers are another key forward target down. Jake Stringer has played that role deep in attack at times, and booted four goals last week against Melbourne, so if the Lions can contain him they will go a long way to subduing Essendon’s scoring power.
The stat: The Lions haven’t met Essendon at the MCG in 10 years. The last time they played at the venue – round 19, 2009 – the clubs played out a draw.
The match-up: Zach Merrett v Dayne Zorko
The AFL Player Ratings ranks Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko as the seventh-best player in the competition. He could go head-to-head with Essendon’s best midfielder Zach Merrett (No.38) in a battle that could shape the contest.
It’s a big week for: Michael Hurley
The Bombers defender will likely face up against in-form Brisbane forward Eric Hipwood, who spearheaded his side to its win over Port Adelaide last week with a six-goal haul. Hurley, and his fellow defenders, will need to work as a group to contain the exciting youngster.
Big call: Cam Rayner to play a career-best game and boot five goals to lead his side to the win.
Thommo’s Tip: Brisbane by 22 points
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