Essendon has come from 40 points down midway through the third quarter to record a remarkable 13-point win over Werribee at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday.
The Bombers kicked nine of the final 10 goals to run away with a season defining victory, winning 16.10 (106) to the Tigers 13.15 (93).
The Bombers VFL season was on the brink when the Tigers stretched the lead out to 40 points close to 15 minutes into the third term before Aaron Heppell saved a certain goal with a desperate defensive effort.
It was just one of many highlights through a gripping final quarter and a half, with the Bombers stepping up to gain control of the match and keep themselves inside the top eight.
Aaron Francis was moved forward kicking three goals including a contender for goal of the year with the outside of the boot after beating three opponents along the boundary.
Conor McKenna’s run and Nash Holmes’ strength helped the Bombers to a seven-point lead, with Sam Michael kicking the last of his three goals to finish off the work of his teammates.
Shaun McKernan also finished with three goals, including the sealer which put the game beyond the reach of the Tigers shortly after coming back onto the ground after a blood rule.
Coach Matthew Egan said it was one of the best wins he has been involved in.
“It’s right up there,” Egan said.
“To be five goals down in the first half and so much of our game was disappointing. We spoke to the players about playing every minute and not giving up. I got a gut feel from them at half time that they still believed they were in the match.
“It was great to see them respond and listen to the messages. It was a really enjoyable win and important for our season.”
The Tigers led by 10 points at quarter time and extended their lead to 33 points at the long interval.
After seemingly not being able to get the ball in the forward half of the ground in the second quarter, the Bombers turned it around during the third with 73 per cent of the ball inside their forward half.
Egan said the boys went back to basics.
“We were minus 12 in clearances in the second quarter alone, we were getting beaten around the ball severely but they adjusted really quickly and you got the feeling that things were changing and the game was looking much better playing our style of footy,” he said.
Heppell’s defensive effort and a goal from Gach Nyuon at the 17 minute mark of the third term ignited the Bombers charge.
Goals from Daniel Willis, McKernan and Francis reduced the margin to 16 points with tensions boiling over at the three-quarter time siren.
James Polkinghorne kicked the opening goal of the final term before Francis’ miraculous goal from the boundary cut the Werribee lead to two points.
Sam Michael’s second goal handed the Bombers the advantage but the Tigers weren’t done with yet, regaining the lead through Braydon Preuss.
Three behinds followed for the Bombers, but Michael’s third goal and then McKernan’s sealer capped off an unforgettable win.
McKernan was a dominant force in the second half, finishing the game with 13 disposals, four marks, six tackles, 18 hit outs and three majors.
In his first game back at VFL level, Kyle Langford was among the Bombers best with 24 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50’s.
Polkinghorne also had 24 touches, five tackles, four inside 50’s and a goal. Conor McKenna’s run and carry was pivotal in the win, helping himself to 23 disposals, five inside 50’s and six rebound 50’s.
Skipper Daniel Coghlan, Nash Holmes and Tom Wallis all had 21 disposals, Mason Redman had 20 and Jayden Laverde finished with 18 touches.
Playing as a forward through the second half, Francis kicked three goals and had 15 touches, seven marks, four tackles and four inside 50’s and kept willing himself to contests late in the game.
Egan said it took all 23 players to get over the line.
“It won’t be good for your article but it was probably the first time this year it felt like we had a really good, even contribution,” he said.
“We spoke at half time about everyone lifting and it was a real team effort.
“Normally I’m probably highlighting three or four players that changed the game for us but I felt it was everyone that played a part.”
The win will keep the Bombers inside the top eight and evens their ledger at five and five with a bye to come next week.
Click back to essendonfc.com.au for more tomorrow from the comeback win.