Melbourne win by 8 points
First game and First goal
In front of the newly opened Great Southern Stand, with 15,000 commemorative badges handed out to kids to celebrate, Melbourne's season opened in the second week of the year for the first time ever after an opening round bye. They had endured a poor pre-season where they'd lost five of six practice and pre-season cup matches, and had also been forced to train in a St Kilda park when neither the MCG or the Junction Oval were available. Even the venue of the match was initially in doubt, with a potential Sheffield Shield cricket final in Victoria causing the game to be shown at either the 'G or Kardinia Park. Victoria missed the finals, leaving the ground empty.
Geelong had already lost a tight encounter with Hawthorn, where Gary Ablett had been held to one goal while Jason Dunstall was helping himself to 12 at the other end, but still went in favourites, especially with injury clouds over Garry Lyon and Jim Stynes. In an attempt to spark his side Malcolm Blight had made them train four times during the week.
The chances of stopping Ablett for a second week in a row were slim, but John Howat managed to restrict the dangerous Cat to just 3.2 while at the other end Jakovich tormented the Geelong defenders with seven of his own. Tim McGrath had started on him, fresh from his nightmare debut with the Cats on Dunstall a week earlier, but by the nine minute mark of the second quarter Jakovich had four goals and the Cats were forced to make a move.
Luke Beveridge kicked Melbourne's first goal of the year 30 seconds into the opening term, and with Jim Stynes dominating in the centre and Jakovich kicking three in a row, the Demons opened a 23 point lead at the first break. After conceding the first two goals of the second term they restored a 23 point lead at half time. Then Bill Brownless was switched to centre-half forward and Gary Ablett into the centre. The moves paid dividends and the Cats only had themselves to blame in the third term for not taking more of their opportunities.
The Cats took the lead a minute into the last quarter but couldn't hold on, and the match ended with champion Mark Bairstow sitting on the bench for the last 15 minutes of the game after being dragged by Malcolm Blight for making two critical errors. He had received a free kick in the centre of the ground but had it reversed by retaliating after a slight bump from Garry Lyon. The Cats were five points in front at the time but Lyon's kick found Todd Viney who goalled and Melbourne was never headed again.
Debutant Andrew Lamprill goalled with his first kick in league football and he made it even more special by kicking it from an impossible angle off his wrong foot in the Olympic Stand pocket midway through the last quarter. It was his only possession for the day but in the context of the tight match it made all the difference.
Best were Jakovich, Obst and Wight. Greg Healy suffered a calf injury.
After the match Mark Bairstow blamed Lyon for the reversed free kick, stating that he had "taken a dive". John Northey praised his players by saying "They were looking down the barrel and they just stuck to their task. That's what we aimed to do, put the pressure on them".