AFL Round 8: Essendon earn ‘miracle’ comeback win over Hawthorn

A feisty Essendon side secured a win for the ages after losing five players moments before the first rebound at Marvel Stadium.

A feisty Essendon side secured a win for the ages after losing five players moments before the rebound at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

Not only did the Bombers have to overcome a late reshuffle, but they followed Hawthorn with every change, mounting a remarkable last-quarter fightback to win 16.12 (108) to 11.15 (81).

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Two Rising Star prospects led their teams forward, but it was Nic Martin who ultimately bettered Jai Newcombe’s career-best performance.

Hawthorn capitalized on Essendon’s pre-game personnel debacle to take the lead over the Bombers, taking an 11-point quartertime lead.

It should have been more for the Hawks who squandered in front of goal, squandering easy chances.

After spraying three shots in the first six minutes, the Bombers threw the first two of the game and thought they had a third when Ben Hobbs really cracked. But a replay showed he caught Denver Grainger-Barras’ fingertips and the ball was kicked back into the goal square.

It wasn’t until Hawthorn got to start his first major, coming from the unlikely source of Max Lynch, who hadn’t scored in the AFL. Five minutes later, a Harry Morrison goal was sandwiched between Lynch’s second as the 23-year-old proved the way forward the Hawks needed.

The frantic opening 10 minutes of the second term yielded five goals, with both sides struggling to gain the upper hand as they went goal for goal.

Eventually, Jacob Koschitzke broke the pattern and gave the Hawks an 18-point halftime lead.

It was a small slice of what the Hawks deserved after making eight more shots on the mark and nine more in the 50s.

Jai Newcombe did the damage around the ball – the Rising Star prospect had 21 touches and four clearances at halftime, while Dylan Moore continued his searing form with 13 takedowns and a goal.

The Bombers found their mojo to take control of territory in the third quarter, but like the Hawks had done in the first half, they missed their chances in front of goal.

Hobbs netted his opening goal that drew the Dons to two goals later in the term, but a 50m penalty after a back push helped the Hawks regain momentum in the shadows three-quarters of the time. .

Shortly after, Finn Maginness kicked Hawthorn to a 15-point lead.

The Bombers needed the first goal of the last quarter, and they got it on a saved shot from Kaine Baldwin to cut the deficit to 10 points.

The Hawks were without Lynch for the first seven minutes as he suffered a concussion test, pushing 19-year-old Jackson Callow into the ruck.

Nic Martin, who might be Essendon’s most impressive player, burst into life, netting an instant goal before setting up Peter Wright for his fourth.

Marvel Stadium was elated as Essendon fans thought Mason Redman had given the Bombers the lead, but Wright had knocked Sam Frost down on the goal line to cost the Dons all six points.

A long ball atop Essendon’s goal box a few minutes later fell into the feet of Zach Merrett, who was unable to bend down to pick it up, but in a fluke the ball ricocheted off his shin for a goal and the Bombers led.

If the Bombers faithful didn’t believe it already, they were when Wright ran an overhand fly ball on the wing, came forward and scored a 55m running goal to give Nine points to his team.

A minute later, Aaron Francis sealed the deal and an unlikely Essendon win.

“It will be a victory for the ages,” former Western Bulldogs star Luke Darcy told Channel 7.

“The Miracle at Marvel.”

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell told Channel 7 after the triumph: “It’s amazing, to be honest.

“You come into a game with a bit of meaning and feeling and I’m so proud of the attitude the boys have maintained throughout this period. There has been a lot of noise outside, but inside the four walls , it’s just an amazing environment for the circumstances we found ourselves in.

“Showing up, with (five) guys late due to illness – it’s just an incredible effort.”

Originally published as Essendon secure ‘miracle’ comeback win despite illness chaos

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