Collingwood players
Collingwood players leave the field after a pulsating Anzac Day draw against Essendon.l Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Anzac Day clash one out of the top draw for Pies, Dons

Oliver Caffrey April 25, 2024

Essendon’s Kyle Langford missed a set shot in the dying stages to ensure the Bombers drew with Collingwood in an Anzac Day classic in front of 93,644 fans at the MCG.

Langford, who starred with four goals – including two in a pulsating final quarter – had an opportunity to win the match after taking a mark with less than two minutes left.

But the Bombers forward sprayed his shot from 30m out, levelling the scores at 12.13 (85) each, to complete the first draw on Anzac Day since the inaugural blockbuster in 1995.

Collingwood had a chance to pinch the match when they immediately surged the ball to the other end, but Magpies forward Jamie Elliott spilled a diving mark near the boundary about 50m out.

Essendon tried to go again, but were unable to put the ball back inside their forward 50 before the siren sounded.

“I thought both sides had their opportunity to win the game,” Bombers coach Brad Scott said.

“It’s a bit of a hollow feeling, but I said to the players win, lose or draw, the effort and intent is what we’re after, and the players delivered that.”

Masters of the tight finish under Craig McRae’s coaching tenure, Collingwood traded blows with their arch rivals during a frenetic last quarter that will go down as one of the best home-and-away games in recent times.

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett
 Essendon skipper Zach Merrett was awarded the Anzac Day Medal for his 31 disposals. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Essendon captain Zach Merrett was awarded the Anzac Day Medal with an equal game-high 31 possessions.

The Bombers stunned Collingwood by kicking the first four goals of the game, converting all of their inside-50s into scores after dominating the centre clearances.

But as they have done almost weekly during McRae’s tenure as coach, the Magpies surged back into the contest after being 27 points down.

As they did against Port Adelaide last Saturday when they trailed by a concerning margin early, Collingwood got going late in the first quarter

The Magpies carried a one-point buffer into the last term after Essendon tall Harrison Jones missed a set shot after the three-quarter-time siren.

Both teams had their chances in the final term as Collingwood forward Brody Mihocek, who finished with three goals, kicked two gettable set shots out on the full.

“I normally go home watch and replay with a red wine, I might have a white tonight,” McRae said.

“I don’t know how to feel, to be honest.

“On a day like today, when most of the footy world would be watching, it’s a great spectacle for our game.”

Jamie Elliott
 Collingwood’s Jamie Elliott soars to take one of the marks of the year in the Anzac Day draw. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Elliott brought down one of the best marks in VFL/AFL history when he soared high on towering Essendon defender Ben McKay’s shoulders in the third quarter.

After taking what will surely be crowned the mark of the year, Elliott calmly went back and slotted the goal in a very similar spot to when he won a game for Collingwood against Essendon in 2022 with a successful after-the-siren kick.

Star Collingwood veteran Scott Pendlebury became the first VFL/AFL player to reach 10,000 career possessions when he brought up the milestone with a handball late in the first quarter.

The former Magpie captain entered his 390th career match needing just four touches to reach five figures after starting with 5000 handballs and 4996 kicks.