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More heroes answer call in Anzac epic

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Magpies win Anzac Day thriller

Collingwood pips a gallant Essendon team in the traditional Anzac Day blockbuster at the MCG.

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COLLINGWOOD
2.4 5.6 9.8 11.14(80)
ESSENDON
1.3 3.6 7.8 11.13(79)

GOALS
Collingwood: Swan 3, Cloke 3, Blair 2, Beams, Jolly, Sidebottom.
Essendon: Davey 3, Zaharakis 2, Monfries, Howlett, Stanton, Dell’Olio, Hocking, Lonergan.

BEST
Collingwood: Swan, Pendlebury, Johnson, Clarke, Beams, Sidebottom, Maxwell.
Essendon: Zaharakis, Heppell, Fletcher, Howlett, Lonergan, Watson, Dyson.

INJURIES
Collingwood: Nil.
Essendon: Hibberd (hamstring).

UMPIRES
Donlon, Stevic, Meredith.

CROWD:
86,932 at MCG.

THERE can't have been a single Collingwood supporter who wasn't having the worst case of deja vu imaginable with two minutes left to play in yesterday's Anzac Day epic.

Three years ago it had been David Zaharakis who had been the subject of Magpie nightmares. Now it looked like it was going to be Brent Stanton haunting them, after the Essendon midfielder's snap bounced through to give the Bombers a five-point lead. And, to rub salt into the wound, after having been brilliantly held by Marty Clarke.

On a string: Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury wins the ball.

On a string: Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury wins the ball. Photo: Pat Scala

At that moment, you could see the Pies' season perhaps about to unravel, losing despite having led for nearly the entire match and dominating most of the statistical categories. They were staring a 2-3 win-loss record in the face, with a couple of tough road trips and a grand final rematch with Geelong looming. All of which might make the final 120 seconds of this match, in retrospect, not only pivotal to one result, but the 20-odd yet to come.

As gallant as was Essendon's fightback, Collingwood deserved this win. And got it, thanks to a long kick from Scott Pendlebury, a roost to the teeth of goal from Ben Sinclair, and a lunge of Jarryd Blair's boot which, after an agonising ''let's go to the video'' moment, confirmed the Magpies had hit the front one last time.

Even then, they had one minute and 20 seconds left to survive, and one final, desperate Essendon attack, in which the Dons again looked likely to score before Dane Swan took the game's final mark in the back pocket, kicked to the wing and, like several thousand other Pies, breathed a massive sigh of relief. And in his case, exhausted relief.

Swan epitomised how Collingwood rediscovered its mojo. Just like last year, he was everywhere, finishing with 42 disposals, including 13 clearances and three goals. He set the tone with a 13-possession first quarter.

Pendlebury racked them up too and, importantly, the Pies' support midfielders, players such as Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom, also jumped on board.

It was in stark contrast to the Essendon engine room, where Ben Howlett and Sam Lonergan battled hard, but Stanton was kept quiet, skipper Jobe Watson wasn't as influential as usual, and Heath Hocking couldn't pull the shutters on Swan's output.

The Collingwood defence, much criticised so far this season, came good yesterday. Skipper Nick Maxwell was back to his marshalling best and veteran Ben Johnson superb with his rebound.

The Magpies also had the more productive forward set-up, where Travis Cloke kicked three goals and always remained a threat. Essendon, sorely missing Michael Hurley, lacked the same sort of marking presence. Indeed, a grab from Jake Carlisle close to three-quarter time was its first mark inside 50 for the match.

But the Bombers did have decent crumbers such as Alwyn Davey, midfielders capable of kicking a couple of goals, such as Zaharakis, and a very healthy dose of good ol' Anzac pluck. It meant that every time Collingwood looked likely to blow the game open, back came the Bombers. Collingwood's lead never exceeded three goals.

Zaharakis clearly likes the Anzac Day stage. The still-young Bomber is a best-and-fairest winner and his game yesterday was all smooth run, smart ball use and classy finishing.

The even-younger Dyson Heppell likes it just as much. It was this same game last year that made many sit up and take notice of the eventual Rising Star winner. The 19-year-old was at it again off half-back yesterday, as resolute in defence as he was dashing with his rebound, the ageless Dustin Fletcher again leading the way.

Beams' early goal in the last term looked very likely to settle the matter, and Collingwood did blow several chances to hammer the final nail into the coffin lid. But substitute Corey Dell'Olio, who came on by quarter-time after Michael Hibberd tore a hamstring, kept things interesting.

Davey crept forward to reduce the gap to single digits. Then again to camp out in the goal square, hovering under Hocking's hurried snap. That levelled the scores and evoked memories of the first officially sanctioned Anzac Day clash between these two great rivals in 1995. When Stanton, three minutes later, took a quick handball from Carlisle and wheeled onto his right to suddenly make what had been a grim day personally that much brighter, it was 2009 all over again.

Blair had just turned five when the Dons and Pies drew in '95. He was 19 three years ago. And yesterday, at a still comparatively tender 22, he added his name to the roll-call of Rocca, Hird, Buckley, Zaharakis and co. It's elite company. And an elite football occasion. One that, as yesterday proved yet again, just keeps on delivering.

16 comments

  • Shh! Listen! Do you hear it? The drums? Something about a shocker. And a Swan king rampant. Good God, Carruthers ...the Magpies have won!

    Commenter
    Mungo Mulligan-Stewart
    Date and time
    April 26, 2012, 2:13AM
    • "Sorry, mate...if it was up to me I'd let you in...but the BIG GUY has reviewed your CV...and it seems like you're just not up to snuff."

      "No worries, Pete...Won by a point today...One out of two ain't bad."

      Commenter
      Mungo Mulligan-Stewart
      Date and time
      April 26, 2012, 4:04AM
      • The goal umpire should have been in position to see Blair's hand flick off the ball as he shot for that last goal. Goal umpiring skills have declined in recent years. The old white coats rarely got it wrong.

        Commenter
        PhilMag
        Date and time
        April 26, 2012, 6:24AM
        • I see you failed to mention the review of the Goldsack behind which was clearly a goal. The problem with the Blair goal is that the goal umpire ws intent on looking at the goal line rather than the players in the square.

          Commenter
          johnjinsf
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 7:59AM
        • Nevermind the fact that the side on view clearly shows Blair hand is nowhere near the ball. Never let the facts interfere with a good anti-Collingwood rant.

          Commenter
          Zoibil
          Location
          Melbin
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 8:31AM
        • You can't say with such certainty that Goldsack's was 'clearly a goal'; unless of course you're a one-eyed supporter, which is a licence to make ridiculous comments. The umpire thought it may have brushed the padding and the video review could NOT prove it didn't. Therefore this decision was correct. IF the video review system is here to stay, maybe they need to tap into additional technologies such as 'hot spot' used in cricket.

          Commenter
          Bill
          Location
          Melb
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:27AM
        • what about that shocking free kick and goal to Essendon for kicking in danger? especially after Fletchers fresh airy wasnt deemed dangerous enough, yet Swan's was... and also Goldsacks goal should have been allowed.

          I see the author also mentions Essendons injuries yet omits that Collingwood was also missing 7 of its best 22 players, almost a third of its team

          Commenter
          dan
          Location
          melbourne
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:44AM
        • Please! The reply on this website would have you believe that Blairy's hand knocked the ball off course by a good 20 degrees - shows a poor grasp of physics IMO. You need to remember that the ball is not being kicked directly at the camera, so it appears to be traveling across the screen - the trajectory appears to change constantly - as Zoibil says, the side view shows his hand nowhere near the ball.

          Commenter
          Phil Mud
          Location
          Fooscray
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 1:15PM
      • Time to be absolutely crystal clear on this - football is NOT like war and playing in an Anzac Day match is NOT equivalent to displaying courage in a war. Playing football is NOT analogous to being an Anzac "hero". The intertwining of football and Anzac Day is becoming increasingly more ridiculous and frankly, offensive. There is absolutely no similarity whatsoever between playing a sport for money and going to war. None. Zero. Zilch.

        Commenter
        janeygotagun
        Date and time
        April 26, 2012, 9:15AM
        • Maradona is in town soon. I am sure he would approve of this Hand of God goal.

          Commenter
          Honey Badger
          Date and time
          April 26, 2012, 9:22AM

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