A spirited Essendon side have had a win for centuries after losing five players moments before the first rebound at Marvel Stadium.
A spirited Essendon side have had a win for centuries after losing five players moments before rebounding at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
Not only did the Bombers need to get over a late reshuffle, but they followed Hawthorn with every change, staging a notable final quarterback comeback to win 16.12 (108) to 11.15 (81).
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Two aspiring Rising Stars led their teams from the front, but it was Nic Martin who ultimately improved on Jai Newcombe’s career best performance.
Hawthorn made the most of Essendon’s pre-match staff debacle to get the jump on the Bombers, bringing an 11-point lead in the quarter-time.
It should have been more for the Hawks who were expensive in front of goal, wasting easy opportunities.
After spraying three shots in the first six minutes, the Bombers kicked the first two of the match and thought they had a third when Ben Hobbs really sprinted. But a replay showed he caught Denver Grainger-Barras’ fingertips and the ball was returned to goal for an entrance kick.
It wasn’t until Hawthorn was able to launch his first major, coming from the unlikely source of Max Lynch, that he hadn’t kicked an AFL goal. Five minutes later, a Harry Morrison goal was sandwiched between Lynch’s second as the 23-year-old proved the way to the goal the Hawks needed.
The frantic first 10 minutes of the second term netted five goals with both teams fighting for the rise as they went goal after goal.
Eventually, Jacob Koschitzke broke the pattern and took the Hawks 18 points clear of the interval.
It was a small slice of what the Hawks deserved after having eight more and nine more in the 1950s.
Jai Newcombe did the damage around the ball: the promising rising star had 21 touches and four removals at half-time, while Dylan Moore continued his scorching form with 13 eliminations and one goal.
The Bombers found their mojo to conquer territory in the third quarter, but as the Hawks did in the first half they wasted their chances under the door.
Hobbs scored his first goal that got the Dons two goals deep in time, but a 50-meter penalty after a push to the back helped the Hawks regain momentum in the three-quarter shadow.
Immediately afterwards, Finn Maginness put Hawthorn up to 15 points ahead.
The Bombers needed the first goal of the last quarter and got it thanks to a set shot by Kaine Baldwin to cut the margin to 10 points.
The Hawks were left without Lynch for the first seven minutes as he underwent a concussion test, pushing 19-year-old Jackson Callow into the ruck.
Nic Martin, who may be Essendon’s most impressive player, sprang to life, kicking a quick goal before placing Peter Wright for his fourth.
Marvel Stadium was in awe when Essendon fans thought Mason Redman had put the Bombers ahead, but Wright had thrown Sam Frost to the ground on the goal line and cost the Dons the six points.
A long ball to the top of Essendon’s goal a few minutes later fell at the feet of Zach Merrett, who was unable to bend down to pick it up, but by a stroke of luck the ball bounced off his shin for a goal and the Bombers took the lead. .
If the Bombers faithful didn’t believe it already, they were when Wright ran over a ball over his back on the wing, went forward and kicked a 55-meter goal on the run to bring his team to nine points.
A minute later Aaron Francis sealed the deal and an unlikely Essendon win.
“This is going to be a win for ages,” former Western Bulldogs star Luke Darcy told Channel 7.
“The Marvel Miracle”.
Originally published as Essendon pulls the “miraculous” comeback victory despite the chaos of the disease