Bombers sneak over the line in thriller
With less than a minute remaining, the Bombers up by four points and the ball deep inside the Dockers’ forward 50, Essendon’s Adam McPhee and Fremantle’s Byron Schammer typified what the game of AFL football is all about.
Lions upset by bottom side Melbourne
The pair threw any consideration of personal safety out the window and raced full tilt towards a loose ball.
The result – two breathless players writhing in pain.
It was a contest that capped a fine match, which the Bombers held on to win 14.11 (95) to 13.13 (91).
“What do you say after playing 99 per cent of the game and then you get two individuals who run at the ball like they do,” Essendon coach Matthew Knights said.
“It’s amazing. That’s why it’s such a great game. That players can commit themselves to contests like that.
“Similar to last week when Judd and Lloyd clashed — fair, hard. Both hit the deck, both got up.
“From our perspective I’m really proud of Adam to commit himself like that … he’s a very courageous player.”
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey was equally proud of Schammer.
“In the end it will be moments like that that will lift the team over the line,” Harvey said.
“You’ve just got to continue to do those things.”
Essendon looked on course for a comfortable victory when they shot out to a 24-point lead early in the final quarter, but a Matthew Pavlich-inspired comeback, during which the Dockers skipper booted three goals, saw the home side close the gap to four points with 83 seconds remaining on the clock.
But the Dockers, reduced to just one fit man on the bench, couldn’t find the winning goal despite launching countless attacks.
It was a gutsy performance by Fremantle, who lost Roger Hayden and Ryley Dunn to first-half hamstring injuries and were dealt a further blow when Ryan Crowley was rushed to hospital during the third quarter with a suspected punctured lung.
Essendon were also hit by injury, defender Dustin Fletcher suffering a suspected broken hand in the second quarter.
Bombers midfielder Mark McVeigh finished with 36 possessions and a goal, while Brent Stanton (two goals), Jobe Watson, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Leroy Jetta were also crucial in Essendon’s third win on the trot, lifting the club to within two wins of the top eight.
Pavlich was superb for the Dockers with a six-goal haul, taking his season tally to 53, while Aaron Sandilands (45 hit-outs) was unstoppable in the ruck.
But their fine contributions couldn’t save Fremantle from their 12th loss of the season, six of them by fewer than ten points.
“It hurts and I said to the players it’s got to hurt,” Harvey said.
“It’s got to hurt the fact we are continually losing those games by a small margin, and you can never accept that.”
© AAP 2013
Snapshot for round 14
THEY SAID IT: “Everyone thinks Fev (Brendan Fevola) has to kick six, seven or eight for us to win. No Judd (captain Chris Judd), Fev kicks four, and we still win by (five) goals. I thought it was very pleasing.” – Carlton coach Brett Ratten after yesterday’s stirring win over Richmond.
STATS THAT MATTER: Hawthorn key forward Jarryd Roughead put his more-celebrated team-mate Lance Franklin in the shade on Friday night against West Coast with 21 touches, nine marks and 6.4 in a best-afield performance. Eagles midfielder Matt Priddis racked up 45 touches and team-mate Daniel Kerr had 40.
MAN OF THE ROUND: For the second week in a row, the will-to-win of St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt was pivotal in a tight match.
MAGIC MOMENT: The look on the face of new Melbourne president Jim Stynes as he sat in the crowd during the last minute of today’s one-point win over Brisbane at the MCG.
TALKING POINT: Two interchange infringements this weekend beg the question: how hard can it be for teams to stick to 18 men on the field?
REPORTS: B Renouf (Hawthorn, striking), A Hunter (West Coast, wrestling), L Franklin (Hawthorn, wrestling), B Thornton (Carlton, wrestling), J King (Richmond, wrestling).
KEY INJURIES: M Richardson (hamstring), B McLean (ankle).
UNDER PRESSURE THIS WEEK: Richmond – again – and North Melbourne.