Stringer hurt as Bombers upset Pies
ESSENDON overcame a slow start and survived a late Collingwood fightback to give their AFL finals push a massive boost with a stunning 15-point upset of the premiership fancies on Friday night.
Dylan Shiel was everywhere with 29 disposals and seven clearances as Jake Stringer kicked three goals in the 10.3 (63) to 7.6 (48) win at the MCG.
But Stinger limped off in the dying stages with a right ankle injury that could put a sour note on the victory.
Collingwood kicked the first three goals of the game in the opening 12 minutes but didn’t manage another until early in the final term.
In between, Essendon midfielders Shiel, Devon Smith and Andrew McGrath took the game away from them at the contest and stand-in captain Michael Hurley marshalled a magnificent rebound defence.
The Bombers kicked eight consecutive goals and led by 28 points early in the final term before Collingwood threw caution to the wind, booting four quick goals to trim the margin back to three points.
But Essendon steadied when Jacob Townsend caught Darcy Moore holding the ball and converted the free kick.
Shiel fittingly kicked the sealer late in the match.
The result was another kick in the guts for Collingwood, who had vice-captain Steele Sidebottom and veteran Lynden Dunn suspended during the build-up to the match for breaches of AFL coronavirus protocols.
The Magpies brought in Adam Treloar, Matt Scharenberg and Travis Varcoe for all of their first games for 2020 and got off to a hot start when Jaidyn Stephenson twice kicked goals from marks deep in the forward pocket.
But Smith and Shiel helped get the ball moving the Bombers’ way and their efficiency in attack – three goals from their first five forays forward – saw the scores level again by quarter-time.
Essendon’s midfield got on top at ground level in the second term and took control of the clearance battle despite Pies star Brodie Grundy getting first hand on most of the hit-outs.
McGrath worked his way into the contest and ruckman Andrew Phillips was competitive in his first game for the Bombers.
Hurley and fellow key defender Cale Hooker were rock solid for most of the night in defence as the likes of Adam Saad, Jordan Ridley and Will Snelling provided bounce out of the back half.
Essendon kicked eight consecutive goals and the unlucky Pies thought they had stemmed the tide when Jordan De Goey’s shot bounced into the goal umpire on the line, but it was ruled a behind on review.
Brayden Maynard was outstanding in defence for Collingwood, Treloar racked up 30 disposals on return and Stephenson finished with three goals.
But the Pies missed ball magnet Sidebottom and injured star defender Jeremy Howe, and had few winners on the night despite almost pinching victory in the final term.
(C) AAP 2020
ESSENDON 3.0 5.0 8.2 10.3 (63)
COLLINGWOOD 3.0 3.1 3.5 7.6 (48)
Goals: Essendon: J Stringer 3 A McDonald-Tipungwuti 2 D Parish D Shiel D Zaharakis J Townsend S McKernan. Collingwood: J Stephenson 3 B Mihocek C Brown J Daicos T Varcoe.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Brendan Hosking, Robert O’Gorman.