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Match Preview: v Essendon

Michael Whiting, AFL.com.au  March 29, 2017 11:33 AM

ROUND 2 IS HERE Get to the Gabba this weekend to see The Lions take on Essendon for our first home game of the season.

SUMMARY

These teams spent most of last season battling out the wooden spoon, but have started 2017 with plenty of optimism following upset first round victories. The reborn Bombers – welcoming back six players who served 12-month suspensions – blitzed Hawthorn with a slick, fast-moving brand of footy, while the Lions ushered in the Chris Fagan era with a nailbiting win over Queensland rivals Gold Coast. How both teams bounce back after their emotional victories is difficult to answer, but the Bombers' established stars such as skipper Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker should all benefit from the run. The Lions will make it difficult with their newfound swarming defensive pressure, but the visitors would fancy their chances of making it two-from-two.

WHERE AND WHEN: The Gabba, Saturday, April 1, 6.25pm AEST 

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

LAST FIVE TIMES

R18, 2016, Brisbane Lions 20.8 (128) d Essendon 12.19 (91) at Etihad Stadium
R8, 2015, Essendon 21.10 (136) d Brisbane Lions 12.6 (78) at Etihad Stadium
R8, 2014, Essendon 9.11 (65) d Brisbane Lions 8.9 (57) at the Gabba
R8, 2013, Brisbane Lions 14.12 (96) d Essendon 12.14 (86) at Etihad Stadium
R6, 2012, Essendon 19.15 (129) d Brisbane Lions 9.8 (62) at Etihad Stadium

THE FIVE POINTS

1. The Lions dominated when these teams met last season, winning the total possessions, contested possessions and clearances. Tom Rockliff starred with 38 disposals, 12 marks, nine tackles, six inside 50s and seven clearances.

2. The Lions' round one win over Gold Coast came despite a stats sheet heavily against them. They had fewer disposals, took fewer marks, laid fewer tackles, had fewer scoring shots, lost the clearances and had 32 fewer inside 50s - but still won.

3. These teams clash for the 43rd time, with Essendon holding a 24-17 advantage, along with one draw. The Lions won just two of 11 matches at the Gabba last season, while the Bombers failed on six interstate trips, losing by an average of 74 points.

4. The Bombers continued their uncontested possession style in round one, racking up the third most disposals of any team in the round (428) and the second most uncontested possessions (288).

5. The Lions will be looking for two wins to start the season for the first time since 2010, and if Essendon wins it will be the third time since 2012 they’ve won their first two games.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… The Gabba turf.

The venue was in doubt due to a decision to grow new grass on a damaged patch following the Adele concert, but, after inspections on the weekend the match has been confirmed.

"It looks in pristine condition, so it'll be good to get back out there again," Dayne Beams said.

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