In 2020 the Bombers will head to Perth to take on West Coast after the bye for the third year in the row and this time it provides them with a shot at redemption.
This year’s disappointing elimination final loss to the Eagles will have been stewing in the minds of many players throughout the off-season and the clash between the sides in round 13 is one that many will have circled on the fixture.
While Essendon will get a chance to take on West Coast in the Marsh AFL Community Series in February, it sets up as an entrée for the main course in June.
The Bombers’ form against West Coast in recent years has been mixed, but their only two meetings in 2019 certainly didn’t go to plan.
They first met in the corresponding game in round 14 with both sides entering the game with fresh legs after the bye.
The Dons got off to a hot start with four of the first six goals, but the game quickly left their grasp as the Eagles flexed their muscles to burst clear for a 35-point win.
Josh Begley impressed with three goals against the Eagles in round 14 this year. (Image: AFL Photos)
Unfortunately it was a similar story in September, when the Bombers were energetic early with two of the first three goals but were overrun quickly as the home side thrived in front of its passionate fans.
The final result, a 55-point loss to finish the season, was a tough one to take and the team will be itching to atone for both below-par efforts this year.
One positive outcome for the Bombers from an otherwise forgettable night was the form of young duo Andrew McGrath and Aaron Francis on the big stage, which is sure to provide the club with some confidence going forward.
McGrath took his game to a new level in the final, gathering 30 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebound 50s, four clearances and a goal in a brilliant display of his class, while Francis claimed a career-high 20 disposals to go with six intercept possessions and four rebound 50s in an impressive defensive performance.
It is impossible to tell where the teams will sit when they meet again at Optus Stadium, but it is clear that both are genuine finals aspirants again and will have high hopes for 2020.