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It’s a Friday night match up the AFL schedulers would rather forget as Melbourne takes on Sydney at the MCG. Join The Roar for live scores and blog from 7:50pm AEST.
It will be wet and miserable in Melbourne, but the weather will still be the least miserable thing at the MCG tonight.
Both Melbourne and Sydney have had abject, indefensibly poor seasons. Neither side has had a win in months, and both occupy positions in the bottom four.
Indeed if Melbourne win tonight, and Carlton get a result against St Kilda, Sydney will drop deeper into the mire.
The galling thing for supporters of both sides is their quality on paper. The Melbourne side running out for this game isn’t too removed from side who played in a Preliminary Final last season.
And Sydney, who finished sixth in the 2018 regular season, have had injuries this year but arguably no worse than other clubs above them.
Given the midfields of Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw, Nathan Jones and Clayton Oliver vs Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, and Isaac Heeney, there is scant excuse for this to be 17th vs 15th.
With that talent both sides will look to put this season behind them quickly and try something different this pre-season.
To that end both sides have blooded young players to see who can add a bit of fire and fight to proceedings. Melbourne have made five changes this week and selected all players under 23 as replacements.
Marty Hore, Billy Stretch, Charlie Spargo, Alex Neal-Bullen and Kade Chandler (debut) come in, while Sydney has brought in Kieren Jack (possibly for a swan song) for the injured Zak Jones.
This game may be won in the ruck, where Max Gawn will face a couple of makeshift opponents in Hayden McLean and Sam Reid.
Gawn should end up with 60 hit outs, but with Kennedy and Parker at his feet, getting most out of that advantage won’t be easy for Melbourne.
On a freezing and probably drizzly night in Melbourne, with nothing to play for either side, this could be an all-time shocker.
Players from either side who show up and actually want to play will certainly have their names highlighted in the coaches box for next season when both sides will be hoping to springboard back into the top eight.
This is really a toss of a coin. Both teams are terrible and the league should invoke the mercy rule for this game (especially for fans of Friday night footy). With Sydney’s midfield I’ll give them the edge but barely.
Sydney by 6 points.