Woosha cashes in ‘get out of jail free’ card
He was under the pump and things were looking bleak, but John Worsfold's Bombers gave a big yelp for their embattled coach in a stunning come-from-behind win over the Giants.
Under enormous pressure to convince Essendon he is the man to remain in charge, Worsfold last night orchestrated the most glorious theft.
A Bombers side that clung on for three and a half quarters against the GWS machine, struck with devastating force in the final 10 minutes to steal victory from the jaws of defeat in David Zaharakis' 200th game.
Relentlessly criticised for his lack of matchday nous, Worsfold made two crucial changes in a 6.1 to 3.3 last quarter that swung the game his team's way.
Orazio Fantasia had three possessions in three quarters, but was moved into the midfield in the final half four with telling effect.
Cale Hooker was moved forward where he had five possessions, two contested marks and two goals - the second giving the Bombers the match winning lead inside the last minute before Josh Kelly's snap at the death sailed wide.
The excellent Shaun McKernan was moved from the forward line to cover Bellchambers in the ruck.
But it was his running goal with two minutes left that levelled the scores ensuring the postscript for this pulsating game will again be a score review controversy.
Replays clearly showed Giant Adam Kennedy had touched the ball while attempting to smother.
But the score review either didn't take place or the officials didn't have time in another calamitous incident.
But take nothing away from Essendon, who repeatedly looked like getting blown off the park by the Giants, yet refused to bow to GWS' class.
If the Bombers need to make finals for Worsfold to keep his job next year, this was a season-defining win and then some.
The Dons are 7-7 and with GWS' scalp, Worsfold couldn't have got hold of a better tonic in his fight to convince the club he is the man to stay in charge.
It wasn't pretty. In fact, statistically they were well beaten in most areas.
Instead, this was a victory for grit, determination and a refusal to surrender. In many ways, it was more pretty than anything Essendon have produced this year.
Fair to say, Shane Mumford has never been popular with the umpires.
The GWS enforcer has never played the sort of game that would see the free kicks flow in his direction.
But is the amount of frees given away by Mummy becoming an issue? He gave away five in the first half alone.
Yet his night improved when Tom Bellchambers, who had shaded him, limped off late in the third with a leg injury and didn't return.
It was a blow for the Dons, because it meant influential forward Shaun McKernan had to ruck.
THE last time Phil Davis kicked a goal Israel Folau was one of his teammates.
That was Round 21, 2012 in Canberra.
So when the GWS co-captain received a 50m penalty and converted at the Coventry End in the first term it ended a seven-year drought.
The young Bomber tagger has had some big jobs in his three games this year.
The Round 13 rising star nomination blunted Patrick Cripps and Jaeger O'Meara in only his second and third AFL games this season.
So it was always going to be interesting to see who he'd go to against the talent-laden Giants.
The Bombers settled on Josh Kelly, but Clarke had his hands full with the left-footer, who had 14 disposals and a goal to half time and finished with 28.
Essendon conducted its routine early warm-up half an hour before the first bounce, but there was nothing routine about it for Patrick Ambrose.
Ambrose came from the field pointing to his quad and was seen in talks with club doctors.
It soon because clear why - the defender had done his quad while kicking.
Emergency Aaron Francis got the late tap on the shoulder take his spot in the side.
ROUND 15 TEAMS: BLUES' BIG SELECTION BLOW
TON-UP?: EVERY SUPERCOACH SCORE
ESSENDON: 3.2 5.3 6.4 12.5 (77)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: 1.2 5.4 7.8 10.11 (71)
Essendon: Laverde 2, McKernan 2, Hooker 2, Brown, Fantasia, Shiel, Zaharakis, Langford, Parish
GWS: Cameron 3, Finlayson 2, Kelly, Himmelberg, Davis, Daniels, Greene
SAM EDMUND'S BEST
Essendon: McKernan Hooker Shiel Saad Merrett Hurley McKenna Langford
GWS: Coniglio Finlayson Davis Himmelberg Williams Kelly
SAM EDMUND'S VOTES
3 - Shaun McKernan (Ess)
2 - Stephen Coniglio (GWS)
1 - Cale Hooker (Ess)
Essendon: Ambrose (quad) replaced in selected side by Francis, Bellchambers (ankle)
Umpires: Nicholls, Hosking, Gianfagna
Official crowd: 25,195 at Marvel Stadium