Brave Bombers jag AFL upset over Hawthorn

Shayne Hope |

Peter Wright has kicked six goals to help Essendon pull off a dramatic 27-point win over Hawthorn against the odds, breathing life back into their AFL season.

Ravaged by illness and forced into five late changes, the Bombers produced an eight-goal final term to run away with a 16.12 (108) to 11.15 (81) win on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.

Jordan Ridley, Matt Guelfi, Jake Kelly, Sam Durham and Alec Waterman were all picked in the starting 22 but were too unwell to play.

Durham withdrew two hours before the game and several others, including ruckman Sam Draper, were affected throughout the week.

The magnitude of Essendon’s desperation was highlighted when they called on Devon Smith as a replacement just days after ruling him out for two weeks because of a knee injury.

The Bombers trailed by as much as 25 points during the third quarter but fought back and finished full of running to claim their second win of the year after a tough 1-6 start.

“The guys really grew into the game well (and showed) resilience,” Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.

“It was a really important and positive day for us.”

Nic Martin provided a spark in the final term, kicking one goal and setting up another for Wright to get Essendon back within a kick.

The Bombers took the lead when Zach Merrett accidentally kicked the ball through for a goal when trying to pick it up off the ground.

Wright then galloped forward after winning a contest on the wing and bounced through his fifth major as the Bombers kicked four in seven minutes to seize control.

Heavily criticised for not having enough impact with their possessions in recent weeks, Merrett (28 disposals and six clearances) and Darcy Parish (32 and six) were outstanding for the Bombers.

Youngster Ben Hobbs (19 disposals) was important on-ball in the final quarter, Redman (27) starred at half-back and Draper was influential late when impressive opponent Max Lynch spent time off the ground.

Jaeger O’Meara (28 disposals and four clearances) was the Hawks’ best and Jai Newcombe (28 and five) had a brilliant in the first half before dropping away.

Jacob Koschitzke, Jack Gunston and Lynch kicked two goals each to help establish what looked to be a match-winning lead midway through the third quarter.

But the Bombers were irresistible in the final term, piling on 8.2 to 1.2 to overrun their rivals.

“I don’t think it was (complacency), I just think we got outplayed when the game was on the line,” Hawks coach Sam Mitchell said.

“It just wasn’t to the standard that we expect.

“We didn’t play at the level that is required to play consistent AFL football.”