Kyle Langford looks dejected after Essendon drew against Collingwood during round seven, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

KYLE Langford blew a crucial opportunity to win the tensest of Anzac Day clashes for Essendon, but the point he did kick was enough to tie the game with Collingwood in a classic at the MCG on Thursday.

In a strange final 10 minutes, both sides threw everything they could at each other but just couldn't find a path to goal, until Langford (who kicked four goals for the game) found himself in some space with 1.50 left on the clock.

But his set shot from 30m out almost directly in front drifted wide, tying up the score at 12.13 (85) apiece, and the 93,000-strong crowd was left restless on the final siren.


Brody Mihocek had consecutive opportunities late to build out Collingwood's lead, but blew both shots out on the full either side of the goal-face.

A drawn match is the same result as the very first Anzac Day blockbuster between the two clubs in 1995.

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett won the Anzac Medal after 31 disposals, six clearances and eight tackles in a four-quarter performance (see the full votes here).


It was an odd game, played at a frenetic or a snail's pace, with very little in between – the Bombers bursting out of the pack with some scintillating footy, the Pies grinding their way back into the mix, a dogged third term before the floodgates opened, with a series of stunning goals from both teams.

BOMBERS V MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats

Collingwood had 80 fewer disposals, moving the ball at pace down the field, while the Bombers worked the ball around the ground to get around the Mapgies' defence.

Essendon produced arguably its best quarter of the season, kicking the first four goals for the game in an astonishingly quick seven-and-a-half minutes, and six for the term, led by Peter Wright on return from a four-week ban.


The Pies blew a few early opportunities, but the clear highlight of the opening term for the premiers was a superb 45m kick from Bobby Hill, on the outside of his boot, onto the chest of a running Jamie Elliott, who drew the margin back to 19.

Scott Pendlebury brought up his 10,000th disposal during the first quarter – a simple handball in his defensive 50 – the first player in the V/AFL to do so.


The Bombers couldn't quite maintain their scintillating start as the Pies lifted their pressure after a successive slow start, trapping the ball in their attacking half and slowly but steadily chipping away at the lead.

The "COLLLLINGWOOOOD" chant began to ring out towards the tail end of the term, which Bomber fans attempted to drown out with a chorus of boos.

Nick Daicos had pinched the lead and celebrated faster than the umpire could signal a holding-the-ball free kick, but the Bombers rallied.


The third term was an old-fashioned slog, and aside from a spectacular Jamie Elliott leap, it was more akin to a boxing round where the points were shared, as both sides struggled with composure, particularly entering their respective forward 50s.

Essendon started the final term in confused fashion, Darcy Parish pushed out to the wing when it was realised the Bombers were a defender short in the 6-6-6 formation, sending Dyson Heppell behind the footy.

Harry Jones was on the wrong side of a painful head clash at the start of the last quarter, leaving the field with a heavily bleeding nose and was subbed out for Nick Hind's pace.

Harrison Jones leaves the field under the blood rule during round seven, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Finally, a mark of the year contender
Do yourself a favour, and watch Jamie Elliott's specky a few times to appreciate an absolute classic of the genre. In a game riddled with mistakes from both sides, Elliott timed his leap onto Ben McKay's head to perfection, kneeling tall on his shoulders. We've seen a number of high grabs not paid this year due to players fumbling the ball to the ground, but the Pie held firm – and most importantly – kicked the resulting set shot after the Bombers had started the third term brightly.


Land of the (non-orange) giants
All eyes were on Essendon's forward line, the Bombers having chosen to omit midfielder Elijah Tsatas to accommodate the return of Wright. It meant that often Wright and Kyle Langford stayed close to goal, Harry Jones roamed a little further, while Todd Goldstein and Sam Draper handled the ruck duties. At times, the extra height worked beautifully and the Pies were easily beaten in the air, but there were definitely moments where lack of pace at ground level was evident.

Collingwood starts slow again
For the second week running, Collingwood conceded five of the opening six goals, and needed an enormous effort to drag itself back into the game. The Pies certainly still have all the talent required to go back-to-back, but will need to address this slow starting tendency, having just got away with a draw.


ESSENDON              6.1     7.6       9.11     12.13     (85)
COLLINGWOOD      2.6     6.11     9.12     12.13     (85)

Langford 4, Wright 2, Stringer, Jones, Parish, Draper, A. Davey, Martin
Collingwood: Mihocek 3, Elliott 2, Hoskin-Elliott, N. Daicos, Lipinski, Schultz, J. Daicos, Harrison, McCreery

Essendon: Merrett, Parish, Langford, Martin, Stringer, McGrath
Collingwood: N. Daicos, Pendlebury, Moore, Mihocek, Noble, J. Daicos

Essendon: Jones (nose)
Collingwood: Nil

Essendon: Nick Hind (replaced Jones in the fourth term)
Collingwood: Harvey Harrison (replaced Mitchell in the fourth term)

Crowd: 93,644 at the MCG

Anzac Medal voting

11 - Z.Merrett (3,3,3,2)
7 - A.McGrath (3,3,1)
6 - N.Daicos (2,2,1,1)
2 - K.Langford (1,1)
2 - N. Martin (2)
2 - D.Parish (2)

The final votes from the panel were as follows:

Dale Thomas (Channel Seven – Chairperson)
3. Zach Merrett
2. Nick Martin
1. Nick Daicos

Eddie Betts (Fox Footy)
3. Zach Merrett
2. Nick Daicos
1. Andrew McGrath

Sarah Black (AFL Media)
3. Zach Merrett
2. Darcy Parish
1. Kyle Langford

Cameron Ling (ABC Sport)
3. Andrew McGrath
2. Nick Daicos
1. Kyle Langford

Andrew Wu (The Age)
3. Andrew McGrath
2. Zach Merrett
1. Nick Daicos