Check out all of the stunning action from this thrilling game.
Hawthorn has withstood a valiant second half comeback by Essendon, mounting a late comeback of its own to somehow get over the line by four points in a thrilling clash at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
The Hawks looked to have the game under control when they led by 32 points at the main break, having short-circuited the Bombers’ possession game-plan with relentless pressure and clinically opened them up around the ground with their unrivalled foot skills.
But the Bombers hit back hard in the second half, kicking seven consecutive goals from the start of the third term to get out to an 11-point lead by the 13-minute mark of the final term.
The Hawks looked cooked at that stage but rallied to escape with a 13.12 (90) to 12.14 (86) that spoke volumes of their fighting qualities.
At the start of the last term, the Bombers were running harder and had all the momentum, while Hawthorn was without skipper Luke Hodge, who left the ground early in the third term with an apparent groin injury, having lost his predecessor Sam Mitchell before the game with calf soreness.
Goalless since the 26-minute mark of the second term, Paul Puopolo kick-started a stirring late rally when he broke the Hawks’ drought at the 14-minute mark of the final term, bringing them back within five points.
Goals to young Bomber Patrick Ambrose and Hawk Jonathan Simpkin cancelled each other out before it seemed serial Hawthorn pest Paul Chapman had continued his hold over the Hawks with a goal at the 24-minute mark that put the Dons nine points up.
But Luke Breust answered a minute later and then Cyril Rioli, in his first game back from suspension, was the hero with a goal at the 28-minute mark that sealed the Hawks’ win.
Shaun Burgoyne was outstanding for the Hawks with a game-high 30 touches that included eight clearances.
Josh Gibson was rock solid in defence, keeping Joe Daniher goalless despite conceding 12cm, and gave the Hawks a lot of counterattack with 22 possessions.
Kyle Cheney was also good in defence against Jake Carlisle – he conceded 11cm – while Matt Suckling took a big step in his comeback from a knee reconstruction.
The usual suspects were outstanding for the Bombers. Skipper Jobe Watson continued his stellar start to the season, racking up 30 possessions, Brendon Goddard barely wasted a touch, Michael Hibberd launched counterattack after counterattack from defence and Cale Hooker subdued Jarryd Roughead.
The Bombers’ next generation also impressed, with Martin Gleeson, Jackson Merrett important contributors and Patrick Ambrose kicking three goals.