Collingwood run down Essendon in Anzac Day classic

Lui Zacher
April 25, 2023 / 10:21 pm

Collingwood run down Essendon in Anzac Day classic


The AFL’s comeback kings have done it again, with Collingwood producing a scintillating last-quarter surge to stun Essendon by 13 points in front of a record Anzac Day crowd at the MCG.

Arguably the most eagerly anticipated Anzac Day blockbuster ever, the match lived up to the hype as young Collingwood star Nick Daicos put in a famous performance to lead his team to their fifth victory of 2023.

Down by 28 points at three-quarter-time, the Magpies stormed home with 7.2 to 0.3 in the last term to steal a classic, 13.12 (90) to 11.11 (77).

The crowd of 95,179 eclipsed the previous record of 94,825 set during the first Anzac Day blockbuster between Collingwood and Essendon back in 1995.

Daicos finished with 40 possessions, but it was his two vital goals in the last quarter that truly earned him his first Anzac Day Medal.

The 20-year-old, in his second season, has been prolific in almost every game he has played this year to be comfortably favourite for the Brownlow Medal.

Essendon turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 28-point advantage by the final change after surging with 6.3 to 1.3 in the third.

But exhilarating comebacks have been a trademark of Collingwood since Craig McRae took over as coach ahead of the 2022 season.

“I don’t know where, but it’s up there,” McRae said when asked where the win ranked in his career.

“I’ve got to say to the record crowd, thank you to the Collingwood supporters … you can just see the players growing in confidence from the energy from the crowd.

“We have this thing that we want to play the minutes, so you’ve got to play the minutes to beat us and we start the game with that as a headline.”

The Magpies’ momentum was undeniable for Essendon, who appeared to be on track for an unlikely 5-1 start to the season under new coach Brad Scott.

Nathan Kreuger booted the first major of the final term to put Collingwood within four goals, before Ash Johnson truly got the Magpies going.

The mercurial forward took possession outside 50 on a tight angle, wheeled around onto his right boot and kicked a monster goal.

It was heartbreak again for Essendon, after Jamie Elliott had nailed an extraordinary goal after the siren to seal a Collingwood win in the most recent previous meeting between the two traditional rivals last July.

Sam Draper had an opportunity to put the Bombers back in front with six minutes remaining but the Essendon ruckman missed an easy set-shot.

Veteran Steele Sidebottom, who was outstanding with 31 disposals, made Draper pay at the other end by sealing Collingwood’s win with a goal on the run.

“We ran out of gas a little bit and they seemed to stop at a petrol station somewhere,” Scott said.

“The positive side for us is that we played two really good sides the last two weeks and we’ve put ourselves in really good positions throughout the game.

“We’ve got really high standards and we’re adhering to that for most of the time, but not for long enough.”

Evergreen midfielder Scott Pendlebury, who was one of Collingwood’s best, copped a hit to the eye in the final quarter and will consult a specialist to assess any damage.

Bombers midfielder Jye Caldwell will likely face scrutiny from the match review officer for a strike to the stomach of Nick Daicos in the third quarter.

Defender Jayden Laverde was subbed out after suffering a shoulder injury in the third quarter and was replaced by Essendon teammate Ben Hobbs.

(C) AAP 2023

Image: Collingwood have produced a thrilling late surge to beat Essendon by 13 points at the MCG. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)