Melbourne win by 1 point
In their first twilight Sunday game of the year, the Demons faced an Essendon side who had been rocked during the week by the latest saga in their long-running supplements investigation.
At first it looked like the Bombers would have a memorable 'backs to the wall' victory as they piled on pressure in the first quarter while keeping the Demons from entering the forward 50 for more than 10 minutes. However with Melbourne's defence standing up well, and Essendon's wasteful kicking the Demons got back within a goal in the second quarter.
The Bombers opened up a three goal lead by half time, and after kicking the first two goals of the second half quickly after the restart they opened up a 33 point lead. It was then that Melbourne began their charge, gradually overhauling Essendon's lead. At three quarter time it was cut to 12, and when Dean Kent goalled on the run after 16 minutes they were in front. A Jack Watts goal from an Essendon defensive calamity shortly after extended the margin, and Kent might have finished the game off if he'd been able to convert a set shot which would have extended the margin to 14.
Having been asleep for most of the second half Essendon then exploded, two goals to David Zaharakis within 90 seconds were followed by a near miss immediately after as a desperate spoil by Lynden Dunn managed to punch the ball through for a point.
With less than a minute to go the ball was still deep in Melbourne's defence before a chain of play started by Cameron Pedersen evading a tackle and assisted by contributions from Nathan Jones, James Frawley, Jordie McKenzie, Dom Tyson, Jack Viney and Daniel Cross the ball landed in the arms of substitute Christian Salem 20m out from goal directly in front. He converted with 19 seconds left on the clock to give the Demons a one point lead.
Essendon had one last chance to force a draw or snatch victory and they got the ball inside 50 but a desperate Demon defence didn't allow them to get a shot at goal and Melbourne hung on for their first one point win since Round 9, 2010.
Melbourne's Inside 50 differential of -33 was the largest ever recorded for a team winning a match.
One Point Games