Melbourne win by 2 points
Despite finishing 6th in the regular season, Melbourne's record in the Sectional Playoffs helped them sneak into the semi-finals - thanks mainly to a massive win over a hapless St Kilda in the second last game.
South Melbourne's ground was chosen as it stood up better than any of the suburban grounds in wet conditions, and the surface remained fit throughout the afternoon.
Essendon won two more games during the regular season, but when they had a player carried off in the first quarter they were forced to play one short for the rest of the game and that proved decisive in allowing Melbourne to play with them on level terms. The Reds also shot away to a fast start, in contrast to their 1897 finals clash where they failed to score a major, the Redlegs raced to a three goal lead before Essendon managed one.
The second quarter was a complete reversal, but Essendon's domination only delivered one goal. The two teams played a high scoring (for the era) third term which saw Melbourne increase their lead by a goal - helped by an Essendon kick which many thought was a goal but was paid as a point. They only had themselves to blame when their captain Stuckey ran into an open goal and casually kicked the ball for a behind having mistaken the posts.
The Dons gifted Fred McGinis a goal from a free early, but dominated from there, but were wasteful with only one goal from eight scoring shots. With Melbourne fading, their opponents steadily closed the gap with behinds - their captain hastily playing on near goal and only kicking a point - and had what most thought was a goal paid as a behind but were still within one straight kick at the death.
The Reds survived the last two minutes and qualified for the Grand Final. For all the controversy over allowing the sixth placed team to play off for the premiership the victory was Melbourne's third over Essendon for the year.
Best were Wardill, Sowden and Young.
Weekly Times estimated the crowd at 11,000.