Essendon’s Martin strikes late to sink Crows

Steve Larkin |

Essendon have scored a thrilling win over Adelaide after a late long bomb from Nic Martin (37).
Essendon have scored a thrilling win over Adelaide after a late long bomb from Nic Martin (37).

A late Nic Martin long bomb has given Essendon a comeback three-point win against Adelaide in an AFL thriller.

Martin launched from 55 metres on the run for the final goal as the Bombers prevailed 10.18 (78) to 11.9 (75) at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

Essendon climb into the top eight with a fourth win of the season but the Crows remain in the mire with one win and five losses.

Martin’s strike with about eight minutes left put the visitors six points up and the Bombers then held on bravely despite a series of Adelaide attacks.

“xxx,” Essendon coach Brad Scott said.

“xxx.”

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett was a standout with 28 disposals, seven clearances and a crucial last-term goal while Jade Gresham (26 touches) and Jye Caldwell (26) were also busy.

Martin capped his influential 27-disposal display with the late game-breaker while Harrison Jones and Kyle Langford kicked two goals each.

Zach Merrett.
Zach Merrett was inspirational for the Bombers, with a team-high 28 disposals. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

Adelaide’s Jake Soligo continued his break-out form in the midfield with 31 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal.

His captain Jordan Dawson was superb with 31 touches, two goals and nine tackles while Mitch Hinge (25 possessions) and Josh Worrell shone in defence.

“xxx,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks said.

“xxx.”

The Bombers started brightly and held a slight edge at quarter-time, 2.4 to 2.2.

Essendon’s early efforts were largely built by skipper Merrett, who dominated the opening term with 13 disposals and four clearances.

The visitors then cashed in with three consecutive goals, and when Jake Stringer snapped accurately they held a 22 point lead.

Jordan Dawson of the Crows clashes with Essendon's Sam Durham
Jordan Dawson was in everything for the Crows, including this tussle with Sam Durham. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

But Adelaide clawed their way back in to the contest with captain Dawson scoring two of their three unanswered goals.

Crow Darcy Fogarty had a shot after the halftime siren to level scores but missed with Essendon, holding a 31-16 inside 50 advantage, up 5.9 to 5.4 at the long break.

The third quarter swung wildly, with Fogarty triggering a four-goal burst in nine minutes.

Adelaide’s scoring spurt created a 19-point lead but just when the Bombers appeared down and almost out, they rallied.

The ever-lively Jones snared his second goal and his dangerous teammate Langford then scored two late majors – his set-shot on the siren gave the Bombers a three-point buffer.

Essendon crept five points up until the 10th minute of the last quarter when Adelaide’s Ben Keays goaled after a free kick to give the home side a one-point lead.

Crow livewire Izak Rankine soon produced a snap from heavy traffic which bounced through for a seven-point break with 12 minutes left.

The Bombers’ inspirational Merrett answered his team’s predicament, swooping on a loose ball and converting to again reduce the margin before Martin’s long-range conversion gave the visitors enough breathing space.

AAP