Essendon has overcome the loss of Aaron Francis to injury to hold on for a pulsating four-goal win over Collingwood in an Anzac Day arm wrestle.
In other AFL matches on Sunday, Port Adelaide thumped St Kilda by 54 points, and Hawthorn snuck home against Adelaide with a three-point victory.
In front of 78,113 spectators at the MCG — a world-record crowd at a sporting event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — the Magpies got the jump on their rivals in each of the first two quarters.
But the Bombers held control for longer, riding Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s five goals and Darcy Parish’s career-best performance to register a stirring 16.13 (109) to 13.7 (85) victory.
Both sides were desperate as they entered the traditional blockbuster with poor 1-4 records, and the margin separating them was only briefly larger than two goals until midway through the final term.
Parish won the Anzac Medal as the best player on the ground and put the Bombers 22 points clear when he kicked his second goal with 10 minutes left.
He led the way with 42 disposals, with Zach Merrett (34) and Dyson Heppell (29) also influential, and tall duo Peter Wright and Andrew Phillips important contributors.
Parish became just the second player to have more than 40 disposals in the traditional Anzac Day fixture, after Collingwood’s Dane Swan in 2012.
Veteran duo Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom worked tirelessly for the Magpies, but the defeat poured more heat on out-of-contract coach Nathan Buckley.
Collingwood had enjoyed a bright start when Darcy Cameron snapped the first goal after just 18 seconds — one of three Magpies’ majors in the opening six minutes — before the Bombers found some field position and hit back.
The lead changed hands three times before the main break and McDonald-Tipungwuti had three goals to that point, including a controversial one that was allowed despite the ball appearing to roll over the boundary line as he gathered it during the build-up play.
Bombers key defender Francis was helped off with a right ankle injury during the second quarter after landing awkwardly from a marking contest and was replaced by substitute David Zaharakis.
The injury-prone former number six draft pick, now in his sixth AFL season, has only once played more than eight games in a year and is facing another stint on the sidelines.
Collingwood pinched the lead early in the final term when Brody Mihocek made a rare contribution, kicking his first goal of the day.
But McDonald-Tipungwuti put Essendon back in front and another goal soon after to Jake Stringer gave the Bombers breathing space before Peter Wright and Parish (two goals each) pounced to settle the result.
Darcy Cameron and youngster Beau McCreery kicked three goals each for Collingwood.
Power destroy Saints
Goalsneaks Steven Motlop and Orazio Fantasia feasted as Port Adelaide heaped more misery on St Kilda.
The Power, with Motlop and Fantasia both booting three goals, were comprehensive 14.9 (93) to 5.9 (39) winners at Adelaide Oval.
The Saints have now suffered heavy losses in three of their past four games — to the Power, Richmond by 86 points and Essendon by 75 points.
Touted preseason as potential contenders after being beaten semi-finalists last year, St Kilda has slipped to 16th spot with just two wins. Meanwhile, the Power are humming in outright third place with five convincing wins from six games.
Motlop and Fantasia were the chief scorers for the hosts, while fellow forwards Connor Rozee, Mitch Georgiades and Charlie Dixon all kicked two goals.
The Power midfield dominated with Ollie Wines (36 disposals, nine clearances), Karl Amon (34 disposals), Travis Boak (27 disposals) and Dan Houston (32 disposals) all prolific.
And the Power’s defence, led by skipper Tom Jonas (26 disposals) and half-backs Hamish Hartlett (26) and Ryan Burton (28), was downright stingy.
St Kilda, despite Seb Ross (31 disposals) and Jack Steele (27 disposals) battling gamely, turned in another lacklustre display and could not find a multiple goal scorer.
The Power’s defensive mastery was a feature as Motlop booted two goals to help create a 15-point quarter-time lead, 4.1 to 1.4.
The Saints failed to cash in on their attacking sorties with just one goal — a freakish left-footed snap from Jack Higgins on the boundary line — from 19 inside 50s for the term.
In stark contrast, the Power scored four majors from their first seven inside 50s.
The Power skipped 28 points ahead when Georgiades slotted two goals in the second quarter.
The Saints’ second goal came from their 24th inside 50 via Brad Hill, who was quiet again with only 10 disposals for the game.
But Motlop soon responded with his third goal, Boak added another, and the Power took a commanding 34-point advantage into half-time.
St Kilda’s Daniel McKenzie was reported for rough conduct in the third term when he collected Wines with a high bump after the Power playmaker disposed of the ball.
The incident led to one of three goals for the term to the Power, who were 49 points up at three quarter-time and then cruised to a resounding victory in a tame last term.
Hawks pip Crows in thriller
Hawthorn young gun Jacob Koschitzke slotted five goals to help his side notch a thrilling three-point comeback win over Adelaide in Launceston.
The Hawks broke through for their second victory of the season despite a stunning debut from Crows teenager Riley Thilthorpe, who booted five majors of his own.
Hawthorn trailed by 32 points in the third quarter but finished with a wet sail in the 15.12 (102) to 16.3 (99) win.
Adelaide had several chances in the last quarter to steal victory but could not get past Hawthorn’s scramble.
It is the Hawks’ first win since round one, when they came from 39 points down to beat Essendon.
In just his fifth top-grade game, Koschitzke kicked three in a free-flowing opening quarter that set the tone for the match.
The Crows, who had not played in Launceston since 2010, went on a six-goal run in the second term to open up a 84-59 half-time lead.
Remarkably, the Crows scored 15 goals straight without registering a behind.
Eighteen-year-old Thilthorpe, last year’s number two draft pick, was a colossus up front and grabbed several pack marks to score three goals in succession.
Thilthorpe also netted 16 disposals and one goal assist after shaking off early nerves, resulting in turnovers off his first two touches.
He opened the scoring in the third term with a mark on the goal line, with the Crows threatening to run away with the contest.
But the Hawks mustered a revival to reduce the margin to 97-84 heading into the final term.
They got to within a point when Mitch Lewis slotted his second of the day, a series of behinds giving them the lead as they held the Crows to just two points for the quarter.
Jaeger O’Meara topped the disposals count for Hawthorn with 31, while Rory Laird had a game-high 32 touches.
The Crows remain on the fringe of the eight and are now 3-3 to start the season, while the Hawks are 2-4.