Hit for six

PLENTY TO CHEW ON: Kevin Sheedy will have to work wonders with his troops this week. Photo: GETTY IMAGES  
Tuesday, July 16

ESSENDON must overcome a six-day-break hoodoo to beat Geelong at Colonial Stadium on Saturday night.

The Bombers have only a one-in-three chance of winning the round 15 blockbuster, according to AFL statistics.

Only four of the 12 teams coming off a six-day break from a Perth road trip have won in the past two seasons.

The combined effect of a shorter week and travel fatigue have conspired against teams sold short by the draw. Essendon lost to West Coast on Sunday in a match which finished at 6.30pm Melbourne time.

The Cats have the benefit of an extra day's recovery after their win over Collingwood on Saturday.

Of the 33 matches featuring a non-West Australian team in Perth in the past 18 months, on only 18 occasions (55 per cent), have they won the following week.

Last year 11 teams lost after making the arduous road trip to Perth, six of those coming after six-day breaks.

Nine teams backed up successfully in 2001, three defying the odds after a shorter week.

It is no easier this year, with seven teams having lost a week after heading west, two of those after a six-day spell.

Six teams have won this year - ironically the only one to do it after six days is Essendon, who overcame wooden spoon favourite Carlton in round seven by 25 points after falling to Fremantle at Subiaco the previous week.

In round 21 last year Essendon defeated West Coast at Subiaco, but could not back up successfully against Richmond six days later at the MCG.

Ladder leader Port Adelaide showed as recently as last Sunday how taxing the trip west is on teams when it fell over the line by two points against Sydney after handing out a drubbing to Fremantle the previous Saturday night in Perth.

The Cats are chasing their seventh win in a row - a feat not reached since 1991.

Saturday night's blockbuster at Colonial Stadium starts at 7.10pm.

A sell-out crowd of 53,660 is a realistic possibility.

The match, an Essendon home game, will be televised on Channel 10.