It's the match up on the AFL calendar that has offered so many twists and turns since it became a regular on the fixture in 1995. Today was no different as Collingwood desperately hung on for a one-point victory in the traditional Anzac Day match. A contentious match-winning goal from Jarryd Blair came after a stirring final-quarter revival from Essendon.
FINAL: Collingwood 11.14 (80) Essendon 11.13 (79)
ANALYSIS: Collingwood was the rightful winner. Had the Bombers got up, they would have stolen an Anzac Day clash for the second time in four years. Dane Swan deserves special mention. He ran himself ragged ... after only a four-day break, like the majority of players from both teams. Essendon lost few fans. The Bombers lost another player to a soft tissue injury early in the game but they were gallant in this narrow defeat. They kept coming, applying the blow-torch to the Magpies at the death. They are now 4-1 .... a record they would have gladly taken at the season's start. As for Collingwood, they are yet to show the same level of intensity as last season and improve to a 3-2 record.
POST-MATCH: It's no surprise that Dane Swan is awarded the Anzac Day Medal. A great four-quarter game highlighted by 42 possessions, a couple of goals and a crucial mark in defence at the death.
SIREN! A frenetic finish with so many twists and turns. Essendon managed to grab after three straight goals but the Magpies had one last shot .... Blair got his foot to a ball and goaled. Great, tight footy. So many decisive moments in the dying minutes. That decision is bound to be watched many times over.
Q4 - 29:10: Blair GOAL! Collingwood snatches back the lead. Video review required! The Magpie got his boot on the ball in the square but the umpires wanted another look. What a moment of drama, highlighted what we face now with video technology.
Q4 - 26:50: GOAL!!! Essendon grabs the lead with two minutes lead. Stanton showed composure to snap truly.
Q4 - 24:40: Collingwood behind. Sinclair misses a set shot but they regain the lead.
Q4 - 23:20: GOAL! Scores tied! Alwyn Davey marks unattended in the goal square and boots truly.
Q4 - 21:30: Lonergan bursts from the pack but misses from in front! So close.
Q4 - 19:50: This is tight now. Both teams are desperately tired and errors are creeping in. A moment of composure from a seasoned player may decide the outcome.
Q4 - 14:35: GOAL! Great mark and goal by Davey. The dangerous forward out-bodied his opponent and dived for the chest grab. Great individual footy. Collingwood 10.8 (68) Essendon 9.10 (64)
Q4 - 13.05: Magpies snaffle two scoring chances, one a shot from Ben Sinclair from the pocket. They can't quite put the Bombers away in this contest.
Q4: 10.30: A rolling pack of players is constantly following the ball. Possessions are tight in close. We're searching for a game-breaking moment that may or may not happen.
Q4: 6.35: GOAL! The Bombers won't lie down. Dell'Olio marks a scrambling kick from Hocking and kicks truly with a slightly unconvincing kick. This game ain't dead yet. Collingwood 10.8 (68) Essendon 8.10 (58)
Q4: 1.20: GOAL! Magpies inflict an early blow. Dayne Beams gets on the board. Ominously, Dane Swan looking dangerous once again after roving the ball straight after the break.
ANALYSIS: This match is up for grabs. You would still have to lean towards Collingwood but it may just be a case of which team is fresher. Essendon was forced to use its sub early after Michael Hibberd pinged a hammy. In contrast, Collingwood brought on debutant Kirk Ugle late. The Maggies may have an edge in freshness but Essendon, to their credit, have bounced back on several occasions just when they looked down and out. Bring on the final stanza.
3QT: Collingwood 9.8 (62) Essendon 7.8 (50)
The siren sounds just as Essendon was launching a big forward thrust. Leroy Jetta let loose too late on a kick from beyond 50 but it probably would have been cut short anyway. We're set for a big finish.
Q3: 31.30 - Closing stages of a pulsating quarter and effective possessions are crucial. The Bombers still lack for big forward targets but they are not panicking with their disposal otherwise. They remain creative.
Q3: 27.20 - GOAL! Darren Jolly mark and goal. Two goals the difference. Four goals each in the 'premiership quarter'. Jolly's goal highlights an important point about this match: the Maggies have been able to mark and convert in their dangerous scoring zone. The Bombers are relying on crumbing goals. Collingwood 9.8 (62) Essendon 7.8 (50)
Q3: 22.20 - Dane Swan is having a serious impact on this game. Three goals and 31 possessions by late in the third quarter. After his latest goal, giving the Magpies some breathing space, he turned to the crowd and rubbed his stomach. Who's fat? ............ We'll get back to that later.
Q3: 16.35 - GOAL! Sam Lonergan earns a free kick and drills a major. Scores level just past the midway point of the third quarter. Bombers are lifting. Jobe Watson doing plenty of damage around the stoppages.
Q3: 14.30 - GOAL! Ben Howlett snags a goal for the Bombers. A great snap out of the pack in Essendon's forward 50. They are taking their chances this quarter. Collingwood 7.7 (49) Essendon 6.7 (43)
Q3: 11.55 - Two quick goals to the Magpies to stem the flow. First Dane Swan (surely best on ground?) marked strongly and kicked truly, then Travis Cloke did his job by converting a set shot. Magpies by 13 points. Collingwood 7.7 (49) Essendon 5.6 (36)
Q3: 7.55 - GOAL! Another one to the Bombers! They close to within one point and are capitalising on their chances. Heath Hocking does the damage this time.
Q3: 3.40: GOAL! Bombers get the first major of the second half and it came about after a snap goal from Zaharakis in the wet on Anzac Day .... sounds familiar doesn't it? This match is well and truly up for grabs Collingwood 5.7 (37) Essendon 4.6 (30)
Q1: 2.10: A moment of drama after umpires refer a potential Collingwood goal was sent to the video review. Dustin Fletcher dived desperately in the goalsquare as his opponent Goldsack lunged at the ball with his boot. After some deliberations .... the umps erred in the direction of a behind.
HT: Collingwood 5.6 (36) Essendon 3.6 (24)
A crucial couple of minutes to close the half. Essendon is within reach despite getting little out of its forward targets in Crameri and Carlisle. A burst of rain late in the term was the last thing Collingwood wanted.
Q2 - 27.10 - GOAL! Davey against the flow. The pacy Bomber bounced one through from 35 metres. Essendon can't score from marking contests but they are taking other chances. Essendon within two goals closing on half-time.
Q2 - 25.20 - Yet another miss in front of goal, this time Toovey from the boundary line. They may rue a run of missed chances. Chris Dawes an earlier culprit.
Q2 - 21.20 - We're into time-on. The tackling count is a fascinating statistic. Essendon is 14 ahead but you would swear Collingwood has been more desperate around the stoppages. Dane Swan still the leading possession-winner with 19 touches.
Q2 - 18:20 - GOAL!! Great roost by Travis Cloke. The forward slots the goal from beyond 50 metres. Just when Essendon was edging back into the contest. Collingwood 5.5 (35) Essendon 2.6 (18)
Q2 - 13.10 - GOAL! Here's some controversy. Dell'Olio applies a great tackle on Blair but his forward pressure sees the Bomber fall into the back of the nimble Magpie. That's pretty stiff for Essendon. Technically a free kick but surely not in the spirit of the game ... Collingwood 4.5 (29) Essendon 1.6 (12)
Q2 - 9.50: Nathan Brown doing a terrific job on Crameri. The bulky Essendon forward has been one of the in-form forwards of the competition across four rounds but is struggling for impact so far. Full credit to the close attention from Brown.
Q2 - 4.05: GOAL! Great build-up by the Magpies, with the ball finishing in Cloke's hands close to goal. The Pies big man runs in and boots a goal That's seven straight scoring shots for the Pies. Collingwood 3.5 (23) Essendon 1.3 (9)
Q2 - 2.10: Poor kicking is poor footy. Travis Cloke misses an early chance in the second term, continuing the club's pattern from the first quarter.
ANALYSIS: The Magpies are well on top but they haven't converted that dominance to a large scoreboard advantage. Essendon's disposal efficiency is well down and they'll be grateful for the quarter-time break and a chance to regroup. Dane Swan brilliant so far with 13 touches while Ben Johnson and Steele Sidebottom have also been prolific.
QT - 28.05: The siren sounds for quarter-time and Collingwood leads by seven points. The lead should be greater. Essendon is just hanging on and have already used the substitution after Hibberd went off with what looks like a torn 'string. Collingwood 2.4 (16) Essendon 1.3 (9)
Q1 - 25.05: Here's a hammy! Essendon's soft tissue injury woes have worsened with Michael Hibberd the latest Bomber to succumb. Another Essendon injury. Hibberd suffered the blow while leaping for a mark. Is that the four-day break coming into play?
Q1 - 21.10: Essendon's disposal is really poor thus far. Bombers struggling to hit targets on a day where the wind isn't a factor. Ben Johnson and Swan getting a stack of possessions for the Magpies.
Q1 - 16.20: The pressure is intense. Both teams finding it hard to find space and give off the ball with confidence. This match is shaping as a beauty.
Q1 - 12.20: Collingwood 2.0 (12) Essendon 1.3 (9)
GOAL! It was eerily similar to Essendon's opener, but Dane Swan puts Collingwood in front. The champion midfielder read the stoppage perfectly and snapped with his right foot.
Q1 - 10.40: The least surprising match-up has occurred with Hocking racing to Pendlebury's side. At every opportunity. Melksham running with Swan, too.
Q1 - 8.10: Essendon 1.3 (9) Collingwood 1.0 (6)
GOAL! Great snap goal by Monfries. Clearing handball from the stoppage came from Watson. No surprise there.
Q1 - 3.50: Collingwood 1.0 (6) Essendon 0.1 (1)
Goal! Steele Sidebottom finds space in the forward 50 and marks cleanly in front. He duly converts. Magpies have settled slightly better.
Q1 - 1.20: Essendon 0.1 (1) Collingwood 0.0 (0)
A typically frenetic opening with clean possessions hard to obtain. The Bombers scamper the ball forward and earn the first score.
2:40pm - What a moment. It never ceases to amaze how a stadium such as this, packed to the rafters, falls silent. Jobe Watson wins the toss and Essendon will kick to the City End. Bring it on.
2:30pm - They've gone through the banner and we've only got a few minutes until the Last Post, the national anthem and the inevitable crowd roar that ensues.
2:20pm - Noiseworks have finished their set and it's nearly time for the pre-match festivities that are so important on Anzac Day ... The Ode, The Last Post, the one minute's silence and The Rouse, followed by the national anthem. It's great to see, too, that both teams will run through the one banner. A nice touch.
2:08pm - The large crowd is being entertained by Noiseworks from the small stage tucked in the City End pocket of the Great Southern Stand. Can't fault the AFL for organising this sort of entertainment ahead of big games.
1:52pm - The teams are out and warming up. Once again the skies have cleared. Here's hoping for some clear-weather footy!
1:41pm - The benches have been confirmed and there's no late changes to the selected line-ups. Debutant Kirk Ugle is Collingwood's substitute, with Jarryd Blair, Simon Buckley and Paul Seedsman to start on the interchange. For Essendon, Cory Dell'Olio is the sub and Ricky Dyson, David Zaharakis and Ben Howlett are on the bench.
1:38pm - Selection has been tricky for these teams, given the four-day break. In Anzac Day tradition, Collingwood has named a debutant for today's clash, with Kirk Ugle to line-up. A great name for starters ....
1:24pm - In case you haven't read it yet, there was a fascinating column from Darren Jolly in today's Age. The premiership ruckman wrote that he sometimes feels like a 'typewriter salesman'. A good piece on the evolution of the ruckman and how big men have passed down secrets to up-and-comers.
1.13pm - Never speak too soon. The rain is teeming down again at the MCG. It's going to be a day for the mudlarks. Collingwood will miss Luke Ball, out for the year after having undergone a knee reconstruction. Can anyone remember the remarkable performance of Mark McGough 10 years ago in this clash? Will we see a repeat?
1.02pm - The countdown is on. Thankfully the conditions have cleared at the MCG and we might have less in Melbourne this afternoon that what we've experienced this morning. It's chilly but the fans are making their way to the grand old stadium for the traditional clash between Essendon and Collingwood.