Tasmanian football fans are in for a treat this weekend with AFL powerhouse Essendon travelling south to take on traditional rivals Hawthorn in what has been billed as the game of the decade in Launceston.
The game at University of Tasmania Stadium will kick-off from 3.20pm on Sunday.
The Hawks were originally scheduled to host the Bombers at the MCG, however the AFL announced on Monday night that the game had been relocated to Tasmania due to COVID restrictions on Melbourne crowds for round 14.
It will be the first time Essendon has played in Tasmania for premiership points.
However, it’s not the first nor the only time the Bombers have graced our shores.
In the first recorded visit, Essendon played in 1882 on the ‘Western Swamp”, the area near Bunnings at Invermay.
It was also reported that Essendon played at Scottsdale in 1926 before returning in 1938 to play an NTFA representative team at York Park in an exhibition game, which the visitors won by 16 points.
The last time the two sides met in round one last season, the Hawks fought back from 40 points down to win a nail-biter by just a single point at Marvel Stadium, with Tom Mitchell starring for the Hawks with 39 possessions.
Essendon won the two previous clashes by 16 and 19 points respectively.
Both teams will be hoping to improve their season fortunes. Essendon currently sits 11th on the ladder with five wins and seven losses, while Hawthorn sits in second-last position with three wins and nine losses.
Hawthorn will be buoyed by their 38-point win over the high-flying Swans last round, while Essendon is hoping to bounce back from a 39-point loss to Richmond a week earlier.
The Bombers will be hoping to welcome back Sam Draper, Devon Smith and Peter Wright from injury for the clash against the Hawks.
Wright was a late withdrawal against the Eagles with a calf complaint, which also ruled him out of the Richmond game.
Draper has missed several weeks due to an ankle injury, while Smith was substituted out of the round nine win over Fremantle and has not played since.
Midfielder Dylan Shiel is also closing in on a return after making quicker than expected progress from his knee surgery.
A victory over Hawthorn will see the Bombers move to within a win of the top eight.
A final decision on maximum crowd numbers will be announced in the coming days by the Department of Health.
Currently, 100 per cent seating capacity (approximately 14,000) is allowed at UTAS Stadium, although that figure could increase.
Tickets for games at University of Tasmania Stadium are only available at the Ticketmaster website.
Hawthorn Members Pre-Sale
Group 1 – GA Members – 9am, Wednesday 16 June through to 9am, Thursday 17 June.
Essendon Member Redemption
3pm, Wednesday 16 June through to 9am, Thursday 17 June.
From 10am, Thursday, 17 June
Hawthorn reserved seat holders will be able to scan in using their membership cards and sit in their allocated seat.
Those attending the game are asked to check-in using the Check In Tas app and to arrive at the ground early to allow for COVID compliance and bag-checks at the gate.
Gates will open at 1.30pm, with the match starting at 3.20pm