Highlights: Collingwood v Essendon
The Magpies and Collingwood clash in round 6
Magpie moods changed drastically as the match progressed
COLLINGWOOD has overcome a disastrous start to outclass Essendon by 23 points in a bruising Anzac Day affair at the MCG in front of the sixth largest crowd in home and away history.
91,731 fans crammed into the home of football to witness the Pies overcome a 37-point deficit to run out victors 12.11 (83) to 8.12 (60), in the 20th Anzac Day clash between these two sides since the tradition began in 1995.
Essendon jumped out of the blocks kicking the first six goals of the game before the Pies, sparked by midfielder Steele Sidebottom and Anzac medallist Dane Swan, piled on nine unanswered goals to wrestle the game back onto their terms.
The win leaves the Pies 4-2 and well in contention for a top four finish after a sluggish start to the season.
"We were challenged in two or three different ways. We didn't win today the way we'd won in the last couple of weeks.
"It wasn't necessarily on our terms. Clearly we were on the back foot at the beginning of the match and there's plenty of different ways you can respond from that.
"We had to win it in a different manner and that's probably the most satisfying part of the result."
After being criticised for a slow start this season, Swan was back to his best with 26 touches and four goals, while Sidebottom was next best for the Pies amassing 26 disposals and kicking three goals.
Swan was overwhelmingly voted the Anzac Medallist after polling a maximum of nine votes from the judging panel consisting of former Cat Cameron Ling, commentator Dwayne Russell and football scribe Rohan Connolly.
The win was soured for Collingwood with Alex Fasolo substituted out of the game and wingman Clinton Young limping off in the third term with a corked thigh.
Fasolo watched the remainder of the game from the bench with a moon boot on his right foot and initial fears were that he had re-injured the navicular bone in his foot, an injury which kept him to just three games last season.
Buckley allayed those concerns after the game, saying he didn't believe it was a recurrence of the navicular injury, instead a toe complaint and a bout of the flu were the culprits.
Essendon's relentless pressure and quick ball movement had Collingwood on the back foot from the opening bounce and it showed on the scoreboard with the Bombers stunning the Pies with a five goal opening term.
Midfielder Brent Stanton was sublime for the Bombers with 14 first-quarter disposals and a goal.
Collingwood could only manage a measly three behinds in the first term with Essendon dominating the inside-50s 16 to nine to lead the Pies by 31 points at quarter-time.
After their first goalless opening term against Essendon since round 19, 1990, the Pies hit back in the second quarter, and the Bombers failed to stop the onslaught.
"I was pretty happy with the boys in the way they came back at the end, very unlucky in the last quarter but there was a period there where we were just horrible. We couldn't stop them from kicking goals, which is a bit of a problem. We'll work on it and hopefully get better."
A Jake Melksham goal in the opening two minutes of the second term pushed the Bombers lead out to 37-points and it looked as though the game could become a blow out.
But in a remarkable turn around, the Pies, ignited by star Steele Sidebottom, piled on six unanswered goals to draw level with the Bombers at half-time.
A goal from recruit Jesse White at the eight minute mark of the second quarter, the Pies first major for the game, sparked his side into action.
Pies skipper Scott Pendlebury lifted his output in the second term with 11 touches, while Sidebottom had eight disposals and kicked three goals, including one just before half-time to level the score.
With the momentum well and truly in their favour, the Pies continued to apply the heat on the Bombers in the third term kicking away to an 18-point lead at the final change.
With Travis Cloke unable to impact the scoreboard, White stood tall up forward, while Dane Swan threatened in attack kicking two goals in the third term to give the Pies a run of nine unanswered goals.
Not willing to concede defeat the Bombers lifted in the final stanza, the Merrett brothers combining to kick the first two goals of the quarter and reduce the deficit to eight points.
But the Pies steadied through Jamie Elliott, Swan and Brodie Grundy to seal the win for the black and white army.
The decision to bring back Courtenay Dempsey into the side was a risk that didn't pay off for the Essendon coach
Dempsey was subbed on for the Bombers early in the third term, replacing Kyle Hardingham who had just one touch to half-time.
The rebounding defender had not played competitive football for a month, after injuring his hamstring two days before being exiled to the VFL for failing to uphold training and preparation standards.
His lack of match practice was evident as he was chased down on several occasions and appeared to be unable to keep up with the pace of the contest.
But Thompson refused to concede he'd erred in the decision to play him.
"I brought him in because we'd lost a bit of experience and we wanted to just put someone in there who could carry the ball and play more exciting football," Thompson said.
Defender-turned-forward Jack Carlisle also failed to bounce back after his coach gave him a public back-hander during the week with Thompson declaring the 22-year-old was "in danger" of being dropped.
The Bombers are set to regain Tom Bellchambers, Brendon Goddard and Heath Hocking for next Saturday night's clash against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
The reverence of the day was lost on no-one at the MCG on Friday. Picture: AFL Media
COLLINGWOOD 0.3 6.5 9.7 12.11 (83)
ESSENDON 5.4 6.5 6.7 8.12 (60)
Collingwood: Swan 4, Sidebottom 3, White 2, Goldsack, Elliot, Grundy
Essendon: Stanton, Daniher, Watson, Winderlich, Ryder, Melksham, Z. Merrett, J. Merrett
Collingwood: Swan, Sidebottom, Macaffer, Beams, Pendlebury, Langdon, Frost
Essendon: Hibberd, Hooker, Heppell, Stanton, Melksham, Ryder
Collingwood: Fasolo (foot), Young (leg)
Collingwood: Alex Fasolo replaced by Josh Thomas in the third quarter
Essendon: Kyle Hardingham replaced by Courtenay Dempsey in the third quarter
Umpires: Farmer, Nicholls, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 91,731 at the MCG