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Essendon smashes Collingwood to move back inside the top eight

ESSENDON 4.0 8.1 14.1 16.7 (103) COLLINGWOOD 2.4 2.6 4.9 5.9 (39)
Goals: Essendon:
J Carlisle 4 P Ambrose 3 P Chapman 3 Z Merrett 2 B Stanton D Zaharakis H Hocking J Daniher. Collingwood: D Beams 2 C Young H Lumumba P Seedsman.
BEST Essendon: Carlisle, Hooker, Stanton, Merrett, Winderlich, Heppell, Chapman, Baguley, Ambrose, Myers. Collingwood: Sidebottom, Beams, Pendlebury, Swan.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Justin Schmitt, Dean Margetts.
Official Crowd: 58,992 at MCG.

Last time they played, Essendon kicked five goals to none in the first quarter. But Collngwood had levelled the scores by half-time. This time, it took the Bombers just eight minutes to kick the first three goals of the game. But that was about where this game stopped following the Anzac Day script.

Essendon was still in front at quarter-time, but the lead was one the Bombers might not have had, had Scott Pendlebury sprayed two set shots, Jesse White mangled another, and the rest of the Collingwood team struggled to turn its eight late kicks inside-50s into something more significant.

Despite their slow start - and a 10-minute patch that both teams spent kicking the ball to each other - the Magpies had a little bit more of the play, a little bit more momentum and, despite their personnel problems down back and in the forward line, seemingly the midfield numbers to cope.

Or maybe not. By this point in the past few seasons the Bombers have done more than start wilting; they have smacked right into the wall. But half an hour later, they had kicked four goals in a row, conceding none in the second quarter. They were 31 points clear at half -time, and they went further ahead when Zac Merrett’s clever snap, kicked while he was tumbling across the boundary line, bounced through. Paddy Ambrose’s much simpler set shot stretched the lead to 42 points, and Collingwood had some huge work to do when Jake Carlisle scored twice in a row.


The Bombers ran hard from end to end. They were able to get numbers back all the time - Jason Winderlich, Brent Stanton, Dustin Fletcher, the always-improving Mark Baguley - so that when the Magpies did get the ball in they had just one chance to do something with it, before it was rushed straight back out. They looked a few steps behind or outnumbered, too slow, too reactive and lacklustre overall. Where Essendon’s disposal problems cleared up quickly, theirs went on and on.

It didn’t help Collingwood that Nick Maxwell was required to play on Jake Carlisle, though that situation only worsened when he hobbled off with a sore leg just before half-time. Carlisle looked as confident, composed and sure of himself as he has looked all season. As important as his marking was - he took 10 in the first half, 19 for the match - his quick give to David Zaharakis, who flew past, grabbed the handball and goaled on the run was an even bigger indicator of his calmer mind.

His match mattered, a lot. So did that of Joe Daniher, able to keep Jack Frost occupied, which in turn allowed Ambrose to play one of his most productive games. That Paul Chapman was able to snap goals off a single step, then snap them around his body, suggested he had his spark and power back. Zac Merrett has some similar moves and the Bombers had the on-ball numbers to cope without Jobe Watson and Brendon Goddard: Zaharakis, Dyson Heppell, David Myers and others all did their bit, used the ball better than Collingwood did, helped each other out and knew what they wanted to do going forward. The Magpies were never able to manufacture the same sorts of options, no matter what sort of work their midfielders were doing, with their game perhaps summed up in one moment.

It happened late in the second quarter, while Ben Howlett was on the ground deep in the Bombers’ forward line with a player on top of him. As three or four other Collingwood players started asking for a free kick, Heath Hocking reached in, picked the ball up from underneath Howlett’s back and kicked it. Maybe it should have been holding the ball; perhaps enough time had passed for a ball-up. Either way, only one player wasn’t waiting for the whistle, and his goal helped put Essendon back on its way inside the top eight.