Tom Papley runs with the ball under pressure from Jake Kelly during Sydney's clash against Essendon in round 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

THERE'S just something about Sydney v Essendon that brings out the weird, the wonderful and the downright wacky.

The Swans (2-0) and Bombers (1-0) will meet again at the SCG on Saturday night, looking to add to a series of remarkable recent clashes.

Of their past eight meetings, an incredible seven have been decided by 10 points or less, dating back to 2019 when Swans defender Dane Rampe infamously climbed the goal post and a David Myers shot after the siren fell short.

Syd v Ess, past eight games
R20, 2023: Syd won by two points
R16, 2022: Ess won by nine points
R9, 2022: Syd won by 58 points
R20, 2021: Syd won by seven points
R4, 2021: Syd won by three points
R2, 2020: Ess won by six points
R16, 2019: Ess won by 10 points
R8, 2019: Syd won by five points

The one anomaly in recent years was a 58-point Swans victory in 2022, during which Luke Parker memorably taunted Dylan Shiel, which blows out the total margin for the past eight matches between the two clubs from 42 points to 100 points.

In the AFL era, that ranks the rivalry 10th in terms of the smallest total margin across an eight-game stretch between two clubs, with Sydney's rivalry with West Coast topping the list. Between 2005 and 2006, the Swans and Eagles played out eight matches with a total margin of 46 points, with six decided by 10 points or less.

Interestingly, the smallest ever total margin between any two clubs across an eight-game stretch was between – you guessed it – South Melbourne and Essendon, who were separated by just 42 points in their eight meetings between 1908 and 1912.

Apart from the heart-stopping margins in recent years, the Swans and Bombers have become renowned for producing moments that stick in the mind.

From Rampe's bizarre antics in 2019, Gary Rohan's match-winning goal in the square two years earlier, Essendon's epic comeback and Courtney Dempsey's ill-fated decision to play on in 2012, Adam Goodes missing a shot after the siren in 2011 and all the way back to Tony Lockett's famous point in the 1996 preliminary final.

The most recent match-ups between the two clubs have been hard to forget.


Last year, Sydney held off a late charge from Essendon at Marvel Stadium in what proved to be the great Lance Franklin's last AFL game. The Bombers stormed back from a 25-point three-quarter time deficit, but a late Tom Papley goal proved to be decisive in a two-point Sydney win.

Led by Zach Merrett (24 disposals and three goals), the 2022 Bombers - who finished the season in 15th - beat the Swans by nine points at the MCG, which was Sydney's only loss in a 11-game stretch that led them all the way to the Grand Final.

Jake Kelly celebrates a goal during Essendon's clash against Sydney in round 16, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

The two thrillers in 2021 went Sydney's way as Papley (four goals in round 20) and Franklin (three in round four) did most of the damage. After Rampe's post climb in Sydney's win in 2019, Essendon won the next two meetings by 10 and six points.

With 16 of the past 33 games between the two sides resulting in a winning margin of 10 points or less, history suggests there's a 50-50 chance of another thriller on Saturday night.

Whatever happens, these two sides will keep us on the edge of our seats.