There was a trio of goals for second player Ash Johnson: what rich picks the midseason draft provided the Pies. And there was the next chapter in the Jack Ginnivan saga, in which he wasn’t just grabbed by the neck by Essendon’s Mason Redman, but placed in a noose – and the free-kick still wasn’t paid. What a cross the AFL has made for referees.
Collingwood was organized in everything he did. For the Bombers, there was a series of central clearances, and that was it. They haven’t had a single provision in their 50 before. The problem was not the lack of incoming ball, but its delay.
But that’s all she said for the Magpies. The change in the second quarter was as sudden and invigorating as the arrival of a cold front. Essendon controlled the next two and a half quarters. Sam Draper assumed authoritative control in the ruck, Zach Merrett and the once maligned and now masterful Dylan Shiel shredded the Magpies again in stoppage time, and the Bombers’ dominance of the center clearance paid off as they exercised more discretion in the future.
They scored the first five goals of the second quarter, all from powerful marks, going 11 in a row by the end of City. Now it was the Magpies that were made to look like props. The signal moment was when Scott Pendlebury committed perhaps the worst turnover of his 351-game career.
It wasn’t until Cox started taking over Clark Keating from Brisbane in the early 2000s by kicking the ball forward from balls that the Pies stabilized. It was unscientific, but effective, and ultimately led to a stable goal as the Pies sent the ball at breakneck speed down the hall.
In the third quarter, it was more or less the same. Draper grew in stature, Merrett and Shiel took full control at ground level and, ominously, Jake Stringer came out on top. Ascendent Draper and Merrett were Anzac Day picked up. Darcy Moore gave Peter Wright too much leeway and Wright paid tribute to Moore. With the confidence of a three-game winning streak filled in them, the Bombers looked unstoppable.
Meanwhile, the Collingwood midfielder has disappeared without a trace. Going into the final quarter, the Bombers led by 21 points, having scored 11 of the previous 13 goals in the game, and the Magpies’ magic carpet ride looked over the top.
In desperation, inspiration arose. Somehow, the Pies scored the last four goals of the match. Although barely able to lift their feet, the Magpies reasserted themselves in the hallway. Veteran Elliott kicked two goals, speculated on the midseason draft and med-sub Josh Carmichael the other two, all four set pieces without nerves. If you don’t know how the Magpies won, it’s because they improvised it. It’s become that kind of year.
Outgoing AFL supremo Gil McLachlan was spotted in the referees’ dugout on the boundary line during the second quarter. No, we don’t know either, but we doubt it’s for a job interview.
ALL AROUND THE NECK
The AFL’s panicked revision of the interpretation of the head-high tackles rule was hammered out during Jack Ginnivan’s first approach to the ball. As he gathered himself, he raised his arm – but as a high-tackle reflex that Mason Redman, usually excellent of the Bombers, was already imposing on him. No free kicks were paid, the crowd roared, the game continued.
“I thought it was a free kick. I don’t think there was any leaning into it,” McRae said. Referees are wrong, others are right.″
For umpires, it’s not so much about the player’s arms around his neck as it’s about the grindstone around theirs.
COLLINGWOOD 6.2 7.4 8.5 12.8 (80)
ESSENDON 0.1 5.3 10.7 11.10 (76)
Collingwood: Johnson 3, Elliott 2, Mihocek 2, Carmichael 2, Pendlebury, Daicos, Cameron.
Essendon: Wright 3, Guelfi 2, Jones, Stringer, Langford, Martin, Phillips, Draper.
Collingwood: J. Daicos, Howe, Elliott, Bianco, Adams, McCreery.
Essendon: Draper, Merrett, Shiel, Guelfi, Wright, Hepell.
Collingwood: Maynard (shoulder) replaced by medi under Carmichael.
Essendon: Redman (internal bruising) replaced with medi sub Ham.
REFEREES: Howworth, Stevic, Whetton.
CROWD: 72,402 at the MCG.