Where and When: Sunday July 25, Metricon Stadium, 6:10pm AEST.
Last time they met: The GIANTS held the Bombers out by two points back in round eight, in what was a nice little run: the win was the club’s fourth in five weeks. The GIANTS held a healthy lead for much of the game, taking the lead 90 seconds into the game and holding it all day, but conceded five of six goals from the start of the last quarter before a brilliant Jacob Hopper goal from the pocket pushed the lead back out to eight points with just 25 seconds left on the clock. Even then there wasn’t time to breathe: a quick Essendon goal narrowed the gap again and the ball was headed into the Bombers’ forward 50 with four seconds to go when the siren sounded. The GIANTS shared the goals around, with Jeremy Finlayson kicking three and Toby Greene, Tanner Bruhn, Josh Kelly and Zach Sproule adding two apiece. Tim Taranto, Tom Green and Hopper were all important players, with the GIANTS holding the edge all day in contested possessions and stoppage clearances while the young backline – Sam Taylor, Jack Buckley, Connor Idun, Isaac Cumming and Lachie Ash – had huge support from Lachie Keeffe, who suffered his ACL injury in the very last contest of the day. The Bombers looking most dangerous once they were able to find some space and get it into the hands of Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett.
Where to watch: https://www.afl.com.au/broadcast-guide-premiership
What it means for the GIANTS: Last week’s Sydney Derby loss was another missed opportunity in a season full of them. Rather than jump into seven spot the GIANTS finished last round in 12th place on the ladder with some work and some consistent form to find if the club is going to find a way past Essendon, Richmond, West Coast, Fremantle and St Kilda in the final five rounds. Eighth spot is one win away, and seventh spot two wins. The clock is ticking.
Where’s the opposition at: The Bombers have also put in an up-and-down season, but after struggling to shake North Melbourne for much of last week’s game they finished with a three-goal win that pushed them up into the top eight. Jake Stringer kicked four goals, continuing his strong recent form, and Peter Wright added three. They had the better of North at the contest and were quick and dangerous once they got out into the open, with Parish and Merrett prolific and the likes of Jordan Ridley and Nick Hind getting them moving from the backline.
The number: 2. That’s the pick the GIANTS needed to grab Josh Kelly back in the 2013 draft, behind key forward Tom Boyd. It was one they gained after sending Dom Tyson and picks 9 and 53 to Melbourne, the GIANTS receiving 2, 20 and 72 in return then heading straight to Kelly’s house to tell him he was their man. Kelly rolled an ankle during the loss to Sydney but should he get up for this week’s game will become the GIANTS’ 9th 150-game player, after Callan Ward, Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Phil Davis, Lachie Whitfield, Nick Haynes and Stephen Coniglio.
In the mix: Kelly is expected to line up, but Matt Flynn will not. He has headed back to Sydney for shoulder surgery and won’t play again this year. Kieren Briggs is stuck in quarantine for another six days in a horrible bit of timing for him, which means Shane Mumford could be called upon to take on Sam Draper in the ruck. Toby Greene, Matt de Boer and Jake Stein also can’t be considered and Bobby Hill is unavailable too, having gone home to Sydney to support his partner. The good news is that Lachie Whitfield will come back into the side after missing round 18 through concussion protocols.