The free agency period began at the end of October and ran through the first week of November. The first day was a busy one with five players heading to other clubs. The breakdown on the first day:
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.
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.
In a no holds barred Second Elimination Final in front of 78559 fans, Essendon lined up against North Melbourne for the right to advance further into the Finals series. The Bombers had much to prove after two tumultuous seasons marred by the ASADA investigation into the use of prohibited substances at the club in 2012. Banned from the 2013 Finals series as a result, finally they had a chance to play on the big stage and give their fans something to celebrate. For North Melbourne it was “make or break’ type pressure hanging over their heads with the absence of team “barometer” Brent (Boomer) Harvey (through suspension) a definite disadvantage.
“Dreamtime at the G" between Essendon and Richmond once again drew a big crowd of around 75,000 fans, with most expecting a close contest between two teams fighting to stay in contention for Finals' action. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, only one team appeared hungry and it wasn’t the boys donning the yellow sash. Essendon players appeared refreshed after their Round Ten bye and they bounced out of the blocks with the first goal to back man Dustin Fletcher within three minutes of the opening siren. Ben Howlett added a second before ex-Geelong goal sneak Paul Chapman tripled the Bombers' pleasure, giving Essendon a 19 point lead at the ten minute mark with the Tigers yet to score. Essendon’s pressure was first class, forcing Richmond into numerous turnovers. The Tigers bombed the ball forward - seemingly without system - playing into the hands of the hard running Bombers. Howlett kicked his second goal as the Bombers did what they pleased. It wasn’t until the twenty-one minute mark that Richmond finally registered a score - and it was a rushed behind. At quarter time the Bombers held a commanding 27 point lead that should have been even greater on the balance
Rick Browner reporting from Patersons Stadium, Perth for AFANA
Essendon players withered on the vine in the stifling 90-degree plus Perth heat and were buried under a burst of third quarter brilliance by the Fremantle Dockers to be overrun by 53 points in their Round 4 clash. Slow and steady was the mantra for both teams during the first part of the match as the strength-sapping temperatures made sustained running almost impossible. The Bombers were patient with the ball and racked up possessions with accurate kicking to teammates in the clear. It was an arm wrestle with the Dockers getting the first couple of goals on the board through Ryan Crowley and Danyle Pearce. Jobe Watson and Joe Daniher evened it up with goals for Essendon, with Watson’s goal surely in contention for goal of the year.