Late July and early August is when teams either make or break their seasons. Fremantle had been losing consistently over the last few weeks with the loss of top line players to injury proving telling. Sydney hadn’t fared much better and a win in this contest would consolidate their top eight position and put pressure on Fremantle for a home ground Final.
Essendon already had one player from Papua New Guinea on an international scholarship, 17-year old David Meli, who is playing the juniors' TAC competition. Now it is three with the club offering two more international scholarships to Victor Lame and Max Lavai, both 15 years old. The pair spent a week in Melbourne in early May, touring the city, meeting Essendon's senior players and visiting the club's facilities.