WHERE AND WHEN: Sydney Cricket Ground, April 11, 7.20pm (AEST)
HISTORY: The Swans have dominated the Demons in recent times, winning nine of the last 10 meetings between the two teams, with the other result during that period being a draw in 2011.
SUMMARY: Sydney broke through for their first win of the season last week, accounting for a spirited Carlton outfit by 19 points. John Longmire’s troops will be desperate to back it up with a win on Thursday night, especially after failing to get the job done against Adelaide in their first home game of the year. Melbourne, meanwhile, headed into the season as one of the contender’s for this year’s premiership but have looked anything but, with the Demons misfiring at both ends of the ground on their way to an 0-3 start to their campaign. A fourth-straight loss will all but spell the end of Simon Goodwin’s charges in 2019.
KEY PLAYERS: Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
Unsurprisingly, Kennedy was a key figure in Sydney’s win over the Blues with 31 possessions (13 contested), one goal, seven inside 50s, seven clearances and eight tackles. Given the small dimensions of the SCG, winning the football in the clinches takes on even greater importance. James Harmes has established himself as an effective run-with player and will undoubtedly go head-to-head with the Swans co-captain. A strong contested ball-winner in his own right, Harmes will need to back himself in at the coalface so as to test out the defensive aspect of Kennedy’s game.
Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
Petracca showed glimpses of his best last week but faded as the game wore on, the 23-year-old finishing with a stat-line of disposals and one goal in the loss to Essendon. There is no disputing Petracca’s talent, but Melbourne need a four-quarter performance from him if they’re to secure the much-needed four points.
Sam Reid (Sydney)
Reid has struggled to impact the scoreboard this season, the 27-year-old managing just three goals across the opening three rounds – two of which came in the round one loss to the Western Bulldogs. For Sydney to be a genuine threat this year, Reid needs to improve his scoring output.
Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne)
Melbourne rank third in the AFL for inside 50s with an average of 60.3, but they haven’t been able to translate that into a winning score. Brayshaw has been one of the few shining lights for the Demons in 2019, with the 23-year-old averaging 31 possessions and ranking fourth in the League for inside 50s. However, Brayshaw’s disposal efficiency leaves a lot to be desired at times, the West Australian product averaging 59.1 per cent across the first three weeks of the season. The Demons will need the likes of Brayshaw to be cleaner with their ball use forward of centre if they’re to get bang for buck in terms of their inside 50 entries.
PREDICTION: This match has the potential to go either way given that both teams are loaded with talent. However, you don’t know what you’re going to get from one quarter to the next with Melbourne at this point in time, while Sydney is more reliable in terms of consistency of effort. Swans by 22 points.