Essendon win by 9 points
Herbie Matthews (2nd game)
A week off for the split round gave the Demons a chance to regroup after a loss to Hawthorn 14 days earlier, but their winless streak stretched to three, dropping them behind the Hawks on the ladder and into second place.
In an effort to stir his side Norm Smith had given them their hardest training night in six weeks, and surprisingly in a season where they suffered a spate of injuries the Demons came out of the fierce session unscathed.
Essendon were troubled with injury too, carrying their longest list of hurt players for the season going into the game but they were able to recover and take the four points. In a high quality match the Dons shocked Melbourne from the first bounce with quick, fierce football and were never headed again. Melbourne were inaccurate but much of the poor conversion came from the close checking of the Essendon defenders.
More inaccuracy in the second half cost Melbourne the chance to win the match, even with Essendon kicking just one goal in the last quarter. Part of Melbourne's trouble was the comfortable defeat dealt to centre half-forward Clyde Laidlaw by 17-year-old Bomber Barry Davis.
In the last quarter a mighty performance by Ron Barassi - who had returned from interstate duty under an injury cloud - threatened to help drag his team over the line but they had left their run too late.
The Demons were still comfortably inside the four, with a game and a half break on 5th place, but were now in grave danger of dropping out of the top two and missing the double chance.
Best were Dixon, Tassie Johnson and Barassi. Gleeson was replaced by Turner during the last quarter.
Melbourne 9.15 d. Essendon 9.8
Goals - Breen 4, Anderson 3, Leslie 1, Miller 1
Best - Breen, Leahy, Ingwersen
Melbourne 11.13 d. Essendon 8.13
Goals - Corrigan 3, Hancy 3, Emselle 2, O'Brien 2, Johnston 1
Best - Corrigan, Hill, Fraser
"Tough training night for Demons" - The Age 26/07/1961
"Long list of injuries weakens Essendon for Melbourne game" - The Age 26/07/1961
"Resolute Dons beat Demons at own game" - The Age 31/07/1961
Football Record R15 1961