When the game was locked in a stalemate in the third quarter, someone needed to stand up and make a difference. It fell to the experienced head of Dane Swan, who went on to win his second Anzac medal in the past three years. In the third quarter alone, Swan had 10 possessions and kicked two of his four goals with two show-stopping moves. The first came when he intercepted a handpass near the boundary 50m out, ran the length of the arc – giving no respect to Cale Hooker as he strolled past him - bounced twice and slotted the goal. The second came late in the quarter when he ploughed through traffic and kicked truly to make the difference 18 points at the final change. Swan's snap at the 19-minute mark of the last quarter when the Bombers were within 10 points was just icing on the cake.
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2. Bomber blitz
There is no other way to explain the first quarter than a red and black rout. The Bombers piled on five goals to zero – and very nearly made it six with Jason Winderlich marking on the 50m arc as the siren rang. The veteran forward made the distance but hit the post, which left the Bombers with a comfortable 31-point lead. The Pies didn't take the ball inside their own forward 50 for 10 minutes at the start of the game and not until the Bombers had three goals on the board. Scott Pendlebury missed a shot in the last 30 seconds after winning a free kick from Jake Melksham, but even the silky skills of the Collingwood captain couldn't save his side from being rendered goalless in the opening quarter for the first time against Essendon since round 19, 1990 – and the first time in any quarter against the Bombers on Anzac Day.
3. Land of the little men
Just as journalists were reaching for the record books at quarter time, things changed dramatically. Melksham kicked the first goal of the term but from there, it was all Collingwood as the Pies slammed through six unanswered goals to level the scores by half time. Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams, Clinton Young and Steele Sidebottom stepped up while the damaging Bombers from the first term – Brent Stanton, Paul Chapman and Dyson Heppell – were reduced in effectiveness. When the momentum swung, it wasn't the big guys who forced the change for the Pies. Jesse White kicked one when he gathered the ball off hands but Travis Cloke touched it just four times in the half and Jarrod Witts twice. Sidebottom snuck two of his three goals from the back of the pack, while Tyson Goldsack and Swan chipped in with the others.
4. Goal review win
There's been plenty of talk recently about the effectiveness of the goal review process and with suggestions that the majority of them are inconclusive. But an instance at the 20-minute mark of the second quarter that cost Collingwood a goal showed the review system can be worthwhile when the right camera angle is available. Cloke kicked a goal from the boundary but Heppell was quick to signal he had touched the ball off the boot. The umpire bravely called for a review in front of the Magpies' cheersquad, which was making some serious noise as their team charged. The footage clearly showed a deviation in Heppell's fingers as the ball travelled through his hands. The adjustment was made, a point awarded and Collingwood fans were left to seethe despite the correct call overruling the goal.
5. Doubt on Dempsey decision?
It was only this week Essendon defender Courtenay Dempsey re-joined his teammates after being exiled to the VFL earlier this month for failing to meet professional standards. The backman's pre-season didn't start well when he came back from leave six kilos overweight. But, after last playing on March 29 – in a VFL practice match where he injured his hamstring after overcoming a pre-season calf issue – Dempsey was recalled to the team this week after addressing his teammates on Tuesday. He started as substitute and came on for Kyle Hardingham in the third quarter and it appeared early on he was going to be challenged by the pace of the game. He was run down once by Sidebottom and then caught twice more before his first constructive possession – a contested mark – set up Melksham for a shot at goal. He ended with 10 touches and will be better for the run but it was still an interesting decision to bring him straight in for such a big stage event, even when he started in the green vest.