PEROXIDE blond hair is back in fashion after Collingwood goal sneak Jack Ginnivan produced the game of his life on the biggest stage of his life, writing himself into Anzac Day folklore by leading Collingwood to an 11-point victory at the MCG.
Not many players in the competition have had their performances dissected in greater detail across the first part of the season than Ginnivan.
But in just his 10th game, the 19-year-old from Bendigo, who has been criticised since GoPro gate in round one, showed he has as much substance as sizzle, booting a career-high five goals in front of 84,205 people – the most at a game since the start of the pandemic – to win the Anzac Medal.
After entering the season as a premiership contender, Essendon's season is now on life support at 1-5 and third-last on the ladder after the 15.3 (93) to 12.10 (82) loss.
BOMBERS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
Friday night was an elimination final for Greater Western Sydney in Canberra, time could prove the same for the Bombers, who haven’t won a final since 2004.
It will be a long way back from here for Ben Rutten's side, although the effort from the midfield was much better than it has been all season long.
Twelve months after tearing Collingwood apart to win the Anzac Day Medal with a career-high 42 disposals – the same amount Dane Swan had in 2012 – Darcy Parish did it again.
This time the All-Australian midfielder went to another level. He touched it 16 times by the first break, 30 by half-time – the most in a half since 2000 – added eight in the third quarter, before equalling his personal best of 44.
Dylan Shiel, Andrew McGrath and Sam Draper had also been under the pump during the week and produced strong performances to beat Collingwood around the ball.
Brody Mihocek missed the trip to Brisbane for the Easter Thursday clash at the Gabba, but exited health and safety protocols in style. He plucked a one-handed grab on the boundary line in the opening quarter but missed. Ten minutes later he kicked an important set shot from 40 metres out, then stuck his left foot out at a ball near the goal square with Jayden Laverde hanging off him.
Collingwood have struggled for a target inside 50 for years, and continued to struggle on Monday. But Mihocek, who has led the goal kicking at the AIA Centre in each of the past three years, hit the scoreboard again, finishing with four goals in a crucial performance.
One of the big talking points in the build-up centred around the availability of Jake Stringer and Zach Merrett. Both were surprise inclusions when they were named on Thursday night, with speculation circling up until the first bounce.
But it was a break glass in case of emergency day for the Bombers and both delivered strong performances. Merrett recovered from syndesmosis surgery within 29 days and collected 34 disposals, while Stringer resumed his stop-start season after miss two games with a hamstring strain, kicking three goals.
Despite strong performances by many of Essendon’s best performance, Craig McRae’s system stacked up, ending a three-game losing streak to level the ledger at 3-3.
After two seasons impacted by lockdowns, hubs and games behind closed doors, the MCG felt like a pre-pandemic world with people packed to the rafters on a sublime day for football.
Mean mode activated
It has taken until late April to get the type of performance Essendon has been hoping for. Now Sam Draper is making his presence felt. The cult figure has had a patchy start to 2022, but on Monday, the Bombers ruckman produced an aggressive performance in an enthralling encounter with dual All-Australian Brodie Grundy. The Magpie got his hand to the ball more and played well, but Draper's intent was a standout.
Luckless big man injured again
New recruit Nathan Kreuger has suffered another injury concern and is expected to undergo shoulder surgery. Collingwood believes the the former Cat will miss the rest of the season. Kreuger missed round one due to suspension/concussion, then a shoulder subluxation against Adelaide in round two in his first game in black and white. He returned for Easter Thursday, but only lasted a quarter on Monday after hurting his shoulder again. The concern now will be on whether he needs surgery given the repeat nature of the injury. Kreuger has only played five games in three years so far in league footy.
Skipper delivers again on Anzac Day
Scott Pendlebury always stands up on Anzac Day and he did it again. This time in the last quarter when the Magpies needed him most. The three-time Anzac Day Medallist went into the middle late and provided Craig McRae's side with the calm head they needed to guide Collingwood to victory. Pendlebury finished with 25 disposals, 11 contested possessions and five clearances to be one of the Magpies' most influential players at the MCG.
Anzac Medal voting
11 – Jack Ginnivan, Collingwood - 3,3,3,2
7 – Darcy Parish, Essendon - 3,2,2
2 – Scott Pendlebury, Collingwood - 1,1
2 – Jordan De Goey, Collingwood - 2
1 – Jeremy Howe, Collingwood - 1
1 – Zach Merrett, Essendon - 1
Judges' 3-2-1 votes
Michael Gleeson, The Age (Chair) – J Ginnivan, D Parish, S Pendlebury
Jobe Watson, Channel 7 – J Ginnivan, J De Goey, J Howe
Lauren Wood, Herald Sun – J Ginnivan, D Parish, S Pendlebury
Josh Gabelich, AFL Media – D Parish, J Ginnivan, Z Merrett
ESSENDON 2.2 4.6 8.8 12.10 (71)
COLLINGWOOD 3.2 6.2 9.3 15.3 (139)
Essendon: Waterman 4, Stringer 3, Perkins 2, Stringer 2, Guelfi 2, Wright
Collingwood: Ginnivan 5, Mihocek 4, Crisp, Quaynor, Adams, Cameron, Grundy, McInnes
Essendon: Parish, Merrett, McGrath, Draper, Shiel, Waterman, Martin
Collingwood: Ginnivan, De Goey, Crisp, Pendlebury, Mihocek, Howe, N. Daicos, Moore
Essendon: Laverde (knee), Parish (ankle)
Collingwood: Kreuger (shoulder)
Essendon: Nick Hind replaced Jayden Laverde in the fourth quarter
Collingwood: Callum Brown replaced Nathan Kreuger in the second quarter