If you asked me who would win this game one week ago, the answer would be obvious… Sydney.
However, the results of last week have breathed some life into this encounter. The Swans were soundly beaten by a tenacious Gold Coast outfit, while Essendon overcame significant adversity to record a stirring win over the Hawks.
As such, this promises to be a fascinating encounter.
Remember, Before You Bet will be previewing every game of the 2022 AFL season, so be sure to check out our AFL Tips page for regular updates.
SCG, Saturday 14th May, 7.25pm (AEST)
Injuries: Harry Cuningham, Sam Naismith, Angus Sheldrick
Sydney will welcome back Tom Hickey and Sam Wicks this week, leaving them with a relatively clean bill of health as the season enters its middle stages. Check out our full AFL injury list heading into Round 9.
Last week’s loss to Gold Coast was arguably the shock result of the round. The Swans were simply outplayed on their home deck, showing a vulnerability that has not been exposed so far this season. Now without a win in a few weeks, Sydney will be eager to turn the tide this week against Essendon, getting back to the form that saw them win their previous two matches by an average of 57 points. There is no doubt that Sydney are a top eight team on paper, but its games like this that go a long way to ensuring a strong ladder placing at the end of the campaign.
Injuries: Michael Hurley, Harri Jones, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (out), Devon Smith (out), Kyle Langford, Andrew Phillips, Will Snelling, James Stewart, Jake Stringer, Patrick Voss
Essendon are missing key figures at both ends of the ground, as Hurley, Langford and Stringer continue to sit on the sidelines.
I went all in on Hawthorn last week when it was announced that essentially all of Essendon’s back six would miss with illness. So, it was certainly an incredible achievement that the Bombers were able to surge home to a commanding victory when so heavily undermanned. Will that prove to be the kickstart their season needed? On the whole, Essendon have still been incredibly underwhelming this year, and looking at the player pool its hard to say there’s a heap of scope for improvement at this moment. Regardless, the young Bombers are a momentum team, which should stand them in decent stead for this week.
Sydney and Essendon have churned out some thrillers in recent years, with the last three matches between the sides by a total of just 16 points.
The Swans have been on the right side of the ledger twice in that period, including last year’s encounter in Melbourne.
It’s hard to see the Swans dropping three games in a row with such a talented line up, and although Essendon were brave last week the strain of an unsettled 22 will surely rear its head on Saturday.
Defence is a facet of the game that will be crucial for the Bombers against the likes of Lance Franklin, Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley, so I think the lack of continuity in that area of the ground will see Sydney get on top.
Hayward has been relatively consistent this season but was held goalless this week. He will be keen to atone for that effort and has kicked two or more goals in three matches this season. An undersized Essendon backline should also play into his aerial strengths.
Parker is another player who had his colours lowered this week, however Essendon’s midfield will struggle to contain his contested ball skills. He hit 25+ three matches in a row before last week’s down performance.
I sense a shootout. The SCG has been a high scoring venue so far this season and both teams have cleared this line more often than not in their past five matches.
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