The ANZAC Day Wednesday football match provided yet another nail biting affair as Collingwood ran out one-point winners over the Essendon Bombers in front of nearly 87,000 fans at the MCG in finals atmosphere.
The Magpies were better throughout much of the first half, but Essendon were never too far behind and showed great determination to stay close all day despite being overmatched by the star studded Collingwood midfield.
Steele Sidebottom kicked the game’s first goal for the Pies but Essendon got one back after some nice forward ruck work put the ball in Angus Monfries’ hands. He wrapped the ball around his body to split the goals from a tough angle.
Dane Swan began his fantastic half (19 possessions) by kicking a tough goal of his own, roving a boundary line throw in to snap the Magpies second.
Unfortunately for the Bombers, Michael Hibberd pulled up crook going for a mark in the back 50 and appeared to injure a hamstring and had to be subbed out for young Corey Dell’Olio.
Scott Pendlebury (19 first half disposals) set up the second quarter’s first goal when he changed direction on a dime to hit Travis Cloke with a beautiful delivery who then ran into a goal.
Essendon dominated possession over the next five minutes and peppered the goal face but were unable to kick a major.
Dell’Olio, who had two great looks on goal during that period, then gave away a disastrous free kick, tackling a Collingwood player as he ran at goal causing the umpire to call an in the back free, although it initially looked to be a great tackle. Jarred Blair ran into an open goal and appeared to give Collingwood the momentum.
However, it took the Bombers less than a minute to respond. Last season’s Best and Fairest David Zarharakis ran inside 50 and slotted one through.
Both sides traded goals as the half winded down. Cloke marked and goaled with a massive bomb from beyond 50 before Leroy Jetta and Alwyn Davey ran forward beautifully together with the latter dribbling a superb kick across the ground and through the goal from 30 meters. Collingwood led 5.6.30-3.6.24 at the half.
The rain had set in as the third quarter got underway and the stadium lights had to be turned on to combat the overcast conditions. A Collingwood goal had to be adjudicated by the third umpire, but the video replay was deemed to be inconclusive leaving the field umpire to call in a behind. As a result, Essendon went the other way and Zaharakis kicked a goal across his body. They got a second consecutive to cut the lead to just a single point when Hocking goaled with just his third possession of the game.
With the Pies needing something, Swan delivered a superstar play by marking in heavy traffic. He went back to kick the goal and stop the bleeding. Not long after the Bombers turned it over kicking outside their back 50 which allowed Swan to easily find Cloke. His return doubled the Pies lead to 12.
Ben Howlett crumbed the ball in mid-air and slammed it onto his boot as the Bombers continued the goal fest and they got another when a kicking in danger call gave Lonergan an easy shot from close distance to tie the scores.
Swan provided yet another highlight- breaking a pack and running cleanly out of a ball up to scoring a fantastic goal. With five minutes still remaining, Darren Jolly marked relatively uncontested 30 out and gave Collingwood a two goal lead before the final break.
Dayne Beams put the Pies in a great position by snapping the first goal of the final quarter, giving them an 18 point lead.
Dell’Olio responded with his first goal in AFL football and it breathed a little life into what appeared to be a sinking Essendon outfit.
The Magpies went onto dominate for a large stretch, but like Essendon before them, failed to capitalise with a major and were made to pay when Essendon ran forward and Davey took a fancy mark and followed it with a goal.
Still a goal behind, Lonergan missed an open shot and Dell’Olio had a chance at another, but it fell short. Still, the Bombers refused to die and they leveled the score after Davey marked in the goal square.
Sinclair had a chance to seal it for the Pies but he missed his second shot on goal of the quarter, only to see the MCG erupt when Brent Stanton put a rough day behind him to give Essendon a five point lead courtesy of a goal from a lucky bounce.
With only a couple of minutes remaining and the stadium on its feet, Jarryd Blair soccered through a goal that was deemed untouched went the field umpires went to the video replay, giving the Pies a single point lead.
Essendon had just 120 seconds to score at least a game-tying point and although they were able to twice go inside 50, they couldn’t get the score they needed and the Collingwood Magpies won another ANZAC day thriller.
Swan amazingly up his work rate in the second half and was awarded with the medal for best afield. He totaled 42 disposals (28 kicks) and kicked 3.1. Pendlebury, Beams and Sidebottom tallied 34, 32 and 28 possessions respectively, and Cloke kicked three majors while Blair had two.
Davey and Zaharakis were damaging up forward with five goals between them and the Bombers put forth a real team effort. Without a dominant midfielder they still managed to fight throughout the day despite Collingwood’s dominance in the middle. Ricky Dyson, Zaharakis and Jobe Watson were their major ball winners but none totaled more than 25 possessions.