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ANZAC Day Banner 2019. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA.

A glorious autumn day was on offer at the MCG for the traditional ANZAC day clash between Collingwood and Essendon football clubs.  Pre-match saw former servicemen in a motorcade around the ground and both teams entered the field to run through a joint banner with “Always remembered” across the top in reference to those servicemen and women that served and fell in wars. The commemoration service was completed in the middle of the ground and the Australian and New Zealand anthems played then teams moved to their final warmups. The opening siren went and a massive roar of the crowd got things underway. 

Both teams started tentatively and defense was to the fore. The first minor score went to Collingwood and Sidebottom as his kick drifted wide.  The first goal came to Mihocek for Collingwood who took a strong contested mark in the pocket as Varcoe’s shot drifted wide. Jake Stringer matched that effort at the other end from deep in the pocket with his long kick threading the big sticks.

The Bombers looked nervy in the middle of the ground and under pressure turned the ball over into the hands of de Goey who ran from the top of the 50 to goal on the run.  Taylor Adams kicked the next as the Magpies negotiated the ball from the back pocket to work the ball forward with the greatest result. Collingwood were now in charge of the game, de Goey and Hoskin-Elliot combined with a knock back from the pocket with Hoskin-Elliot snapping the Magpies fourth goal. The Bombers managed to hold off any more damage and went into the first break 23-points down. 

The American star, Mason Cox, was quiet in the first quarter with just a couple of touches and spent time on the bench, but his presence up forward drew multiple defenders and made players such as Mihocek more dangerous when the ball came in long.

Matt Guelfi gave the Bombers the start they desperately needed with the first goal of the second quarter. Collingwood pushed into the 50m area on multiple occasions without luck. But finally, it was a kick to a fast lead from Mason Cox that saw him mark confidently and had the Magpies even the ledger for the quarter. Josh Thomas saw the Magpies push out again as he took the ball on his own in the pocket and put the banana kick straight through the middle. Cox kicked his second for the quarter after he floated in over two Essendon defenders in the goal square and played on to kick truly. 

Mitch Brown stopped the rot as the Bombers turned the ship around. His mark and set shot goal reduced the margin to 27 points. Stringer then kicked his second from 55m out on the boundary to further reduce the margin and give the Essendon fans renewed hope. Joe Daniher went one better kicking another after the siren from slightly further out and truly brought the game back to life as the players left the field for the long break now just 15 points behind.

Once again play was tight for the first part of the quarter. The first goal came six minutes in when Shiel sent a kick long to Joe Daniher who called for him to sit the ball on his head. Shiel obliged and Daniher clunked the mark over opponent Darcy Moore. At the other end it was Cox one out against Cale Hooker who was awarded the free kick but missed 25m out from goal.

Cox kicks for goal but misses. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA.

Sidebottom soon made amends though and gave some breathing space as he shrugged a tackle and snapped the ball for goal under pressure.

But Essendon kept on coming. Stringer missed a vital set shot but made up for it minutes later when he avoided defenders in the pocket to scramble a pass to Baguley straight in front just 15m out. His goal reduced the margin to 8 points. Collingwood drew away again as Varcoe read the fall of the ball well and dished the ball off to a running Stephenson who kicked the goal. A coast to coast goal for the Bombers after a great kick in straight up the middle saw the Bombers stay in touch as Baguley kicked the goal and for the second time they had reduced the end of quarter margin, now 9 points. 

The 92,241 crowd had enthusiastically ridden every bump and tackle and were now ready for the final battle. Both teams kicked minor scores under pressure early. Neither side wanting to give an inch the first goal of the last quarter did not come until the 16th minute of the final stanza. A high ball to Baguley in the forward pocket saw him awarded the free kick as he battled for position with Langdon. He went back and snapped the ball from the pocket and the margin was now just three points.

But the confidence of Jordan de Goey who took the ball on the run at the 50, kicked from 40 meters out and kicked the key goal for Collingwood and gave them breathing space. Again, the Bombers came and McDonald-Tipungwuti dished a handball over the top to Joe Daniher. Daniher stepped a defender and snapped another goal.   

Collingwood tried to hold their lead in the final minutes by being very deliberate to hit targets and maintain possession. Essendon desperately tried to get the turnover but the Collingwood defenders setup too well in the midfield. Callum Brown was paid a free kick for in the back to kick from 40m out straight in front with a minute to play but his kick missed. Essendon tried to go long from the kick in but could not get clean possession and Collingwood were 4-point winners in another ANZAC day classic. Collingwood Captain Scott Pendlebury was awarded his third ANZAC Day medal.

Essendon   1.0 5.3 8.6 10.9  (69)              
Collinwood 4.5 7.6 9.9 10.13 (73)          

Essendon:     Daniher 4, Baguley 3, Stringer 2, Guelfi
Collingwood: Cox 2, De Goey 2, Mihocek, Thomas, Stephenson, Hoskin-Elliott, Adams, Sidebottom 

Best on ground:
Essendon:    Shiel, Merrett, Hurley, Saad, Stringer, Daniher
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Grundy, Crisp, Howe, De Goey, Beams 

Essendon: Smith (knee)
Collingwood: Cox (knee) 

Reports: Nil Umpires: Stephens, Hosking, Ryan 
Official crowd: 92,241 at the MCG 

Anzac Medal voting:
9 – Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood) 3, 3, 3
4 – Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) 2, 2
3 – Joe Daniher (Essendon) 2, 1
1 – Dylan Shiel (Essendon) 1
1 – Adam Saad (Essendon) 1 Jake Niall (The Age, chair) - Scott Pendlebury, Joe Daniher, Dylan Shiel
Mark Robinson (Herald Sun) - Scott Pendlebury, Brodie Grundy, Adam Saad
Kelli Underwood (ABC) - Scott Pendlebury, Brodie Grundy, Joe Daniher

Article last changed on Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 6:58 PM EDT

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