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Match preview: Gold Coast v Essendon

Pick a Winner: GC v Ess Duck and Browny preview the Suns v Bombers

Two of last year's big disappointments have a cloud of intrigue hanging over them leading into round one. Most pundits expect the Bombers to finish with the wooden spoon after 12 of its current players were suspended by WADA in the off-season, but led by new coach John Worsfold and a host of former and retired top-up players, they'll be out to prove otherwise. Gold Coast fought battles on and off the field in 2015, but with skipper Gary Ablett fit from the season's start, will be keen to shown they're ready to climb the ladder this season. 

WHERE AND WHEN: Metricon Stadium, Saturday, March 26, 3.35pm AEST 

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide 

R21, 2015, Gold Coast 14.13 (97) d Essendon 14.11 (95) at Metricon Stadium
R22, 2014, Essendon 16.12 (108) d Gold Coast 13.11 (89) at Etihad Stadium
R12, 2013, Essendon 17.13 (115) d Gold Coast 11.6 (72) at Etihad Stadium
R3, 2012, Essendon 15.15 (105) d Gold Coast 13.10 (88) at Metricon Stadium
R6, 2011, Essendon 31.11 (197) d Gold Coast 8.10 (58) at Etihad Stadium

1. Jack Martin and Tom Lynch kicked three goals each and Aaron Hall had 31 disposals in the Suns' narrow win over the Bombers last season. Nine players who played for Essendon in that game will be missing.

2. No team in 2015 disposed of the ball less than Gold Coast, ranked 18th with 323 a game. Essendon was ranked eighth, averaging 377 disposals a game.

3. Essendon was a strong uncontested possession team in 2015, ranked sixth with 241 a game. Gold Coast was ranked last with an average of 184.

4. Gold Coast struggled at Metricon Stadium last season, winning just three of its 11 matches. The Bombers lost at the venue formerly known as Carrara for the first time last season after six previous wins.

5. Both teams struggled to score in 2015, topping 100 just three times apiece. Gold Coast averaged 74 points a game, while Essendon averaged just 71.

6. With just six games in the past 20 months, Gary Ablett has slid to No.47 in the Official AFL Player Ratings. He started 2015 at No.1, but shoulder and knee injuries restricted his impact.

Guy McKenna. The former Gold Coast coach comes back to Metricon Stadium for the first time since the Suns axed him at the end of 2014. After four seasons as head coach, Bluey would love nothing more than coming back as John Worsfold's assistant and upsetting the applecart with a win. 

PREDICTION: Gold Coast by 19 points

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs