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Six-six-six ... and the Demons' devil of a dilemma in defence

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The Melbourne-Essendon game might prove to be one of the most consequential of 2019, bearing in mind that the winner would be back near par, while the loser would be mired in the bunker or the water.

Melbourne supporters must console themselves with the example of the Swans of 2017, who lost their first six yet made the finals. Recovery is still possible.

In addition to the hefty stakes, the match contained an additional subplot: How it was played: fast, open, goals galore and with savage swings in momentum.

Zac attack: Zac Clarke and Max Gawn in the ruck.Credit:AAP

This was the type of game that (non-Demons supporting) viewers love, but coaches view with disdain, due to the defensive failings. Yet this was a necessary corrective after a fortnight of low scores, to lend credence to the new rules ushered in by the AFL.

Essendon and the Demons scored 10 goals from centre bounces. Clearly, six-six-six is the rule that will make the greatest difference to the shape of the game. Hitherto, the new rules had failed to boost goal production.

The architects of those reforms, the AFL’s football boss Steve Hocking and his offsider David Rath, would have liked watching Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti baulk and goal, Devon Smith and Orazio Fantasia’s blinding acceleration and the sense that neither team felt safe with the lead until the last two minutes.

The major take-outs, however, were for the clubs.

Essendon will be square at 2-2, without Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker, if they can overcome the Brisbane Lions at the MCG next weekend.

Has there been a Dons-Lions game so anticipated since........

© Brisbane Times