A feisty Essendon outfit has been victorious for centuries after it lost five players just before its first bounce at Marvel Stadium.
A feisty Essendon outfit has been victorious for centuries after it lost five players just before the jump at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
Not only did the Bombers have to overcome a late reshuffle, but it lagged Hawthorn at every change, staging a remarkable battle in the final quarter to win 16.12 (108) to 11.15 (81).
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Two hopeful Rising Star led their side from the front, but it was Nic Martin who finally topped Jai Newcombe’s best performance.
Hawthorn took full advantage of Essendon’s pregame personnel debacle to make the jump on the Bombers, taking an 11-point lead in the quarter-time.
It should have been more for the Hawks, who were wasteful on goal and squandered easy chances.
After firing three shots in the first six minutes, the Bombers fired the first two of the game and thought they had a third when Ben Hobbs really snapped. But a replay showed it caught the fingertips of Denver Grainger-Barras and the ball was sent back into the goal plaza for a kick-in.
It wasn’t until Hawthorn was able to start his first major coming from the unlikely source of Max Lynch, who hadn’t kicked an AFL goal. Five minutes later, a goal from Harry Morrison was wedged between Lynch’s second, as the 23-year-old proved the way to goal the Hawks needed.
A frenetic first 10 minutes of the second term saw five goals, with both sides struggling to gain the upper hand as they went goal for goal.
In the end, Jacob Koschitzke broke the pattern and kicked the Hawks to an 18-point lead at halftime.
It was a small slice of what the Hawks earned after eight more scoring shots and nine more in the ’50s.
Jai Newcombe did the damage around the ball – the hopeful Rising Star had 21 touches and four clearances at halftime, while Dylan Moore continued his red-hot form with 13 disposals and a goal.
The Bombers found their mojo again to take over territory in the third quarter, but as the Hawks had done in the first half, they lost their chances in front of goal.
Hobbs scored his first goal, putting the Dons within two goals deep into the period, but a 50-yard penalty after a push to the back helped the Hawks regain momentum in the shadows of three-quarters.
Shortly after, Finn Maginness kicked Hawthorn to a 15-point lead.
The Bombers needed the first goal of the last fifteen minutes and they got it thanks to a set shot from Kaine Baldwin to reduce the margin to ten points.
The Hawks were without Lynch for the first seven minutes when he underwent a concussion test, which sent 19-year-old Jackson Callow into the ruck.
Nic Martin, who is arguably Essendon’s most impressive player, came alive and scored a quick goal before setting up Peter Wright for his fourth.
Marvel Stadium was entranced when Essendon fans thought Mason Redman had put the Bombers in charge, but Wright had flung Sam Frost to the ground on the goal line to cost the Dons the six points.
A long ball to the top of Essendon’s goal square, fell a few minutes later at the feet of Zach Merrett, who couldn’t bend down to pick it up, but like a fluke the ball bounced off his shin for a goal and the Bombers led.
If the Bombers’ faithful didn’t already believe, they were when Wright ran a ball over the back onto the wing, sauntered forward and kicked a goal from 55 yards on the run to lift his side nine points.
A minute later, Aaron Francis sealed the deal and an unlikely win at Essendon.
“This will be an all-time win,” former Western Bulldogs star Luke Darcy told Channel 7.
“The Marvel at Marvel.”
Originally published as Essendon wins ‘miraculous’ comeback win despite illness chaos