Main content

Dee-liverance for Neeld, Melbourne

James Sellar wraps up Michael Hurley during Melbourne's stunning win

MELBOURNE has produced the upset of the season to stun high-flying Essendon by six points at the MCG and drag itself off the bottom of the premiership ladder.

After a horror start to Mark Neeld's tenure, his first win as coach of the Demons was built on intensity and ferocity at the contest, which the Bombers failed to match in the 8.10 (58) to 6.16 (52) result.

Five talking points: Essendon v Melbourne

The Dees led by 11 points after surprise forward Colin Garland booted his second goal of the last quarter in the 17th minute and defended bravely after Jobe Watson's second goal soon after set up a nail-biting finish. 

Garland sprayed a set shot 30m out in front with 1:42 left on the clock to make it a six-point game and the Demons scrapped right until the final siren, which was greeted with scenes of jubilation on the Melbourne bench as Neeld embraced his players.

"There are some good signs there," Neeld said after the game.

"I think half-way through the third quarter, we were about minus-20 in contested possessions and Essendon had a little bit of a run on.
 
"The boys, to their credit, managed to fight back and to almost square the ledger by the end of the game in those conditions was a really good effort."

Light rain that fell in the first half made conditions tricky for both sides, but Melbourne's one-on-one game plan robbed the Bombers, who sat second on the ladder before the match, of time and space.

Jack Watts continues to grow in confidence as a defender for the Demons and repelled several Essendon attacks while gathering 24 touches, with Jack Grimes (26), Nathan Jones (26) and Brent Moloney (23) all important. 

Watson was valiant for the Bombers with 32 possessions and two goals, but he didn't get nearly enough support on a disappointing night for James Hird.

"We didn't play well, we didn't convert our opportunities, we didn't win contested footy - the things that we think we're good at we didn't do well tonight," Hird said.

"We let Melbourne, who hadn't won a game, get a sniff and if you're desperate for a win and you get a sniff then you lift a cog. All credit to the way they played."

The Dons more than doubled the Demons' inside 50s in the first quarter, but through a combination of their own wastefulness and Melbourne's intensity and numbers in the back half, they failed to capitalise on that dominance.

Watson kicked his side's first goal just over a minute in and the Dons failed to kick another for the rest of the quarter, with Jeremy Howe booting the Dees' only major to send his team into the first break three points in arrears.

Melbourne stunned the home crowd with a three-goal burst to take a 13-point lead midway through the second term as the Bombers continued to spurn opportunities in front of goal.

Alwyn Davey ran onto a loose ball out the back of a contest to drag one back late in the quarter, but again, it was Essendon's only major for the term with the Demons leading by a goal at half-time.

Essendon looked set to run over the top of Melbourne with the first two goals of the second half and they had their noses in front by eight points at three-quarter-time.

Paddy Ryder kicked his second behind of the match to start the final term, as the Bombers threatened, but just when Demon hearts looked set to be broken, unlikely hero Garland stepped up to kick two goals to secure a famous victory.

ESSENDON       1.5    2.9   5.13    6.16 (52)                    
MELBOURNE   1.2    4.3    5.5    8.10 (58)          
 
GOALS
Essendon:
Watson 2, Davey, Melksham, Hocking, Colyer
Melbourne: Garland 2, Howe, Morton, Moloney, Jones, Clark, Sylvia
 
BEST
Essendon:
Watson, Dempsey, Stanton, Howlett, Zaharakis
Melbourne: Watts, Jones, Howe, Moloney, Rivers, Grimes, Nicholson
 
INJURIES
Essendon:
Hooker (soreness) replaced inselected side by Pears
Melbourne:
Bail (concussion) replaced in selected side by Morton, Blease (groin)
 
SUBSTITUTES
Essendon:
Alwyn Davey replaced in the fourth quarter by Sam Lonergan
Melbourne: Sam Blease (groin) replaced in the third quarter by Lynden Dunn
 
Reports: Nil
 
Umpires: McBurney, Jennings, Foot
 
Official crowd:
42,987 at the MCG

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs