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Round 2 – Sydney v Essendon: That is how you break a drought… narrowly!


The Gold Coast Suns showed the AFL world how to break a drought in style on Saturday night. The following day, Essendon showed the AFL how to give their fans a heart attack by breaking their own drought.


Isn’t it great to have footy back?


Dad, all the way in Dubai, found an inventive way for me to watch the game with him while in Melbourne: screen sharing on Zoom. It was a brilliant idea. However after a quarter of choppy footage and disjointed audio, I said it was probably best if we watched the game on our own separate devices.


And what a game it turned out to be.


Essendon got out to a fast start, as we did against Fremantle. Sydney started slowly in similar fashion to their round one game against Adelaide. And yet, slowly but surely, the Swans came back. Another chapter in this gruelling, typically thrilling and severely under-rated rivalry was written over the course of 105 (or so) edge-of-your-seat minutes.


The SCG has not been a happy hunting ground for the Bombers. Tony Lockett in 1996. A thrilling loss in 2011. When Buddy tore us to shreds in 2016, (one of many times he has torn Essendon to shreds over his career thus far in both Hawthorn and Sydney colours), the Gary Rohan game and the finals shellacking in 2017. Finally, and most recently, the Dane Rampe incident. The last time we have beaten Sydney in Sydney was the last time (before 2019) that the Swans missed finals.


I was nervous the entire game. In a footy podcast I started this week, I predicted Essendon would win by 23 points. My co-host Liam said he thought Essendon would win by single-digits. I was hoping he was going to be wrong, since, in recent years, the close Bombers-Swans games have normally gone Sydney’s way. And yet, deep down, I knew it was going to be another nail biter. Even when Essendon got out to a 20-point lead three times in the game, I knew the Swans would come. And come they did.


I was nervous because, in previous years, Essendon has failed, more often than not, when they’ve been tested the way they were today. But we stood tall when it counted. Merrett, Langford, McGrath and Shiel led the way through the midfield, while Stringer and McKernan each kicked a bag of three goals. For the Swans, Papley and Taylor threatened to steal the game late from the Bombers. The Sydney higher-ups would be hoping Tom stays in the red and white. I’m sure seeing him wearing Victoria’s navy blue and white back in February would have made them deeply uncomfortable. Premierships are built off talented, electrifying forwards like Papley.


Great win, Essendon. They had to overcome a red-eye flight, shared with the royal blue and white enemy, followed by a wait for their match to start and having to play at a stadium they hadn’t won at since 2009. Throw in some questionable umpiring late in the game. This shows why Essendon, as one of only three undefeated teams heading into round three, can push for a home final. And maybe we’ll even win one this year (I can’t get too far ahead of myself, but a man’s gotta dream).



SYDNEY           2.0     5.3     9.4     11.7 (73)
     5.2     6.3    10.6    12.7 (79) 


Taylor 3, Papley 3, Blakey, McCartin, Sinclair, Heeney, Lloyd
Stringer 3, McKernan 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Smith, Merrett, Langford, Parish


Sydney: Lloyd, Parker, Florent, Rampe, Kennedy, Dawson
Merrett, McGrath, Shiel, Langford, Parish, Stringer 





Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Caspar McLeod

Third Culture Kid at Heart. Grew up in Asia, discovered footy at age 9. AFL has since been my burning passion. Ask me who were the winners all the grand finals between 1938 and last year's decider, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting ever so patiently for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.


  1. Paul McLeod says

    Still think the screen sharing was a brillkiqnt idea, Caspars dad

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Great write up Caspar. Your Bombers were a bit more consistent than my Swans this time. And yes it’s a great rivalry particularly since the infamous Daniher/Fields trade back in 1978. I’m gradually getting over that debacle. Maybe Joe will head over to the Swans to even out the ledger … who knows?

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