James Aish lays a desperate tackjle on Brendon Goddard
ESSENDON has dodged a bullet and kept its finals hopes flickering with a come-from-behind eight-point win over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Trailing by four points at the final change, the Bombers kicked the only two goals of the final quarter to win 9.11 (65) to 8.9 (57).
"In the last quarter, from where I was, it felt like we were going to win the game.
"Our players stepped up that little notch and did enough to win … that's a good sign."
The Bombers will also be sweating on the availability of veteran Paul Chapman, who will almost certainly face scrutiny from the Match Review Panel for a second-quarter incident involving Lion Jack Redden.
Redden came away with a contested ball before Chapman raised his right elbow and caught the Lion across the face with a glancing blow.
It could have been much worse, with the impact minimal at most.
Essendon captain Jobe Watson (35 disposals) stood up under the fourth quarter heat to lead his team home.
Fellow midfield prime movers Dyson Heppell (35) and Brendon Goddard (30) also got plenty of the ball.
The Bombers' backline stood tall under intense pressure, led by Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Michael Hibberd and 39-year-old Dustin Fletcher.
Essendon led by as much as 20 points during the second quarter but had to withstand a fierce second half from a home team playing in retro Brisbane Bears guernseys to mark their upcoming Hall of Fame dinner.
Lion Jack Redden is sandwiched between Paul Chapman and Jobe Watson. Picture: AFL Media
The Lions, sparked by small forward Josh Green's three goals and vice-captain Tom Rockliff's 35 touches, kicked four goals to one in the third quarter to take the lead.
Teenagers Marco Paparone (29) and James Aish (23) were also superb in defeat.
"The kids have talent. We’ve still got a few games to go - whether they’ve got the energy and consistency to keep this effort up for the rest of the year will be tested, I guess.
“They were very good against St Kilda and dropped away last week. I don't want it to drop away next week when we have the challenge of going to Melbourne (to play North Melbourne)."
The narrow loss completed another turbulent week for the Lions, following the resignation of chief executive Malcolm Holmes on Thursday.
Goddard also sent a scare through the Bombers
during the second quarter when he reeled away from a contest with Andrew Raines clutching his jaw and cheek.
The two tough nuts approached a loose ball at high speed, but Raines got there first and turned his shoulder to protect the ball.
Goddard was a split second late and caught Raines' shoulder. He groggily walked off the field holding his face, but returned just minutes later.
The incidents spiced up a match that had lacked spark – if not endeavour – in the first quarter-and-a-half.
Green's goal on the half-time siren came after players from both sides got caught in some push-and-shove and the Lion received a 50m penalty.
BRISBANE LIONS 3.0 4.3 8.6 8.9 (57)
ESSENDON 2.3 6.4 7.8 9.11 (65)
Brisbane Lions: Green 3, D Merrett, Brown, Zorko, Paparone, Paine
Essendon: Z Merrett 2, Goddard, Daniher, Carlisle, Zaharakis, Watson, J Merrett, Ryder
Brisbane Lions: Green, Aish, Rockliff, Paparone, Hanley
Essendon: Watson, Heppell, Goddard, Ryder, Stanton
Brisbane Lions: TBC
Brisbane Lions: Nick Robertson for Andrew Raines at three-quarter time.
Essendon: Kurt Aylett for Martin Gleeson in the third quarter.
Reports: Matt Maguire for tripping Joe Daniher in the third quarter
Umpires: Leppard, Meredith and Mitchell.
Official crowd: 26,432 at The Gabba