Essendon Bombers registered their first win of the 2015 AFL season after an incredible two-point comeback against Hawthorn Hawks, with the game ending Bombers 12.6.78 to Hawks 11.10.76.
Essendon took a slender five-point lead after a rather dull first quarter with both sides cancelling each other out with solid defending.
The Bombers continued to apply relentless pressure in the second quarter and effectively thwarted the attack-minded Hawks. This tackle from Zach Merrett epitomised the Bombers’ endeavour for the contest.
Already a round of upsets, the underdogs started to see their efforts rewarded on the scoreboard as a flurry of five goals put them out to a 35-point lead. Dyson Heppell, Brett Stanton and Jobe Watson gave the Bombers first use of the footy and the Hawks had no answer to their midfield domination. This fine counter-attacking goal was a regular theme throughout the second term.
It looked like the Bombers would keep the Hawks to an extremely rare goalless quarter, but Paul Puopolo’s second and a clever snap (see below) from star Cyril Rioli moments before half-time, cut the deficit to a manageable 22 points.
The favourites needed to respond to Essendon’s challenge, but they got off to the worst possible start to the third quarter when Travis Colyer slotted this incredible shot tight on the boundary line.
However, from that point forth it was the Jack Gunston show, as the Hawthorn forward scored three quick-fire goals to get his team within nine points of the lead. Moments later debutant James Sicily kicked truly with his first goal in AFL football and the margin was just three points.
The Bombers run from midfield had stopped, and they were not doing themselves any favours with some poorly executed kicks from their back half. As the Hawks threatened to steal the lead for the first time in the game, Joe Daniher kicked his third and a much-needed goal for his team as the match became a tug of war for the remainder of the quarter.
This stirring chase and rewarded tackle from David Zaharakis on speedster Brad Hill was a highlight of the third quarter and the injection of impetus that the under sieges Bombers needed.
With an eight-point advantage heading into the final quarter the onus was on the Hawks to chase the game, and they duly obliged. Luke Breust’s classy goal (see below) saw the Hawks edge in front by a goal for the first time all afternoon.
Another goal (see below) by the small forward doubled the Hawks’ lead, as the Bombers looked tired and out on their feet.
16 points adrift and showing no signs of a comeback, Essendon produced a stirring fightback with the final three goals of the match. Down by 10 points and with less than two minutes remaining, Colyer finished off a rapid counter-attack before defender Cale Hooker sealed a famous two-point win for the Bombers with this effort.
Hawthorn face a tricky test in Tasmania next week as they host a resurgent Western Bulldogs, while for the victorious Bombers a clash with an out of sorts Carlton Blues on Saturday afternoon awaits.