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Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 20

Essendon’s Neale Daniher (second from right) after kicking the last goal of an amazing comeback win over Carlton in 1981. Photo: FAIRFAX SYNDICATION

Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 20

Luke Michael    

If you need a break from the constant speculation and analysis accompanying the 2018 AFL season, take a step back and enjoy some of the greatest moments from round 20 in years gone by.

This round should trigger some wonderful memories for Essendon supporters, including a match-winning performance from Neale Daniher in 1981 and a stunning upset of St Kilda in 2009, but conversely also featured a 160-point shellacking at the hands of Hawthorn.

Because, like a wild brawl at the MCG or a time-wasting free kick at Princes Park, so are the Rounds of our Lives.

ESSENDON 14.15 (99) d CARLTON 15.8 (98) (Princes Park, Round 20 1981)
In a classic match which helped establish one of football’s great modern rivalries, Essendon won a thriller against Carlton, after Blues’ skipper Mike Fitzpatrick was controversially penalised for time wasting.

The 1981 clash at Princes Park was highly anticipated, with the top-of-the-table Blues taking on a similarly in-form Essendon side, which had won 13 games in a row and sat in third position on the ladder.

Carlton gradually took the ascendency in the match, and by the time Jim Buckley kicked a miraculous goal from more than 50 metres at the 20-minute mark of the final term, the Blues led 26 points.

But the Bombers hit back, thanks to goals from Roger Merrett and Paul Vander Haar, reducing the deficit to 13 points during time-on.

With pressure mounting on Carlton, Fitzpatrick took a mark in defence and tried to run down the clock by holding the ball for an extended period. This drew the ire of umpire Ian Robinson, who pinged Fitzpatrick for the rarely enforced offence of time-wasting.

Essendon only kicked a behind from the free kick, but gradually wrestled back the momentum before Neale Daniher – who moved from defence to attack at three-quarter time – came alight.

At the 30-minute mark, Daniher took a great pack mark between two Carlton defenders and goaled from 30 metres out to reduce the margin to five points.

From the next centre bounce, Essendon won a scrappy clearance before Glenn Hawker took the ball on the wing and tumbled a punt forward. Waiting inside 50 was Daniher, who took an easy chest mark after his Carlton opponent Bruce Doull slipped.

Daniher had no problems converting again from 30 metres out, incredibly giving the Bombers the lead in the dying stages.

Essendon held on in the frantic final seconds to secure a memorable one-point victory, as fans streamed onto the ground to join in the celebrations.

COLLINGWOOD 26.16 (172) d BRISBANE 10.11 (71) (Carrara, Round 20 1991)
Collingwood legend Peter Daicos put on a clinic against Brisbane in 1991, kicking 13 goals as the Pies steamrolled the Bears at Carrara. Daicos entered the match in scintillating form, kicking a combined 16 goals in his previous two games against Fitzroy and St Kilda. But the best was yet to come. On a dewy Gold Coast night in round 20, Daicos produced a career-best performance, booting 13.1 despite later admitting he played the game “sick as a dog”. His most famous goal from that night came in the third term. Daicos took possession of the ball beside the right-hand point post with John Gastev hot on his tail, but as Gastev slung him around in a tackle, Daicos was able to thread a dribbling check-side kick through the goals. It was a moment of magic from the “Macedonian Marvel”, who helped Collingwood romp to a 101-point victory.

HAWTHORN 32.24 (216) d ESSENDON 8.8 (56) (MCG, Round 20 1992)
Despite entering round 20 sitting just one spot apart on the ladder, Essendon was no match for a rampaging Hawthorn in 1992, with the Hawks recording their then-greatest winning margin of 160 points. The reigning premier was dominant against the hapless Bombers from the get-go, opening up a 42-point lead by quarter time. The lead had blown out to 138 points by the end of the third term, after the Hawks kicked 8.9 to Essendon’s two behinds. Despite a four goal final term from the Bombers, the Hawks still managed to secure a record 160-point victory, their biggest win until a 165-point drubbing of Port Adelaide in 2011. Hawthorn’s score of 32.24 (216) remains the third-highest in the club’s history, thanks in part to a 12-goal haul from Jason Dunstall.

COLLINGWOOD 19.20 (134) d ESSENDON 17.4 (106) (MCG, Round 20 1994)
This is a game memorable not so much for the game itself but for a wild brawl which proceeded it. Collingwood and Essendon were involved in a huge melee during the warm-up of their round 20 clash at the MCG, while most of the players were still in their tracksuit tops. A bumper Friday night crowd of 76,565 witnessed the chaos take place as the Magpies ran through their banner and crossed paths with Essendon players jogging towards the centre. The skirmish – which was seemingly sparked by a clash between Collingwood ruckman Damian Monkhorst and Essendon’s Steve Alessio – lasted several minutes and delighted the raucous crowd. Collingwood eventually had the last laugh running out 28-point winners, but Monkhorst would later be fined $5000 for starting the fight.

ESSENDON 19.20 (134) d ST KILDA 17.4 (106) (Etihad Stadium, Round 20 2009)
St Kilda’s incredible 19-match winning streak came to an end in round 20 after a Nick Riewoldt miss after the siren. While the Saints had looked unbeatable for much of the 2009 season, Essendon seemed set to secure an easy victory at three-quarter time, leading by 29 points. But the Saints refused to concede, keeping the Bombers goalless and kicking five themselves to reduce the deficit to under a goal. After a Brent Prismall behind gave the Dons a three-point lead with 31 seconds remaining, a coast-to-coast play from the Saints saw the ball land in Riewoldt’s hands inside 50 in the final 10 seconds. Kicking after the siren, the Saints champion was 35 metres out on a slight angle, but his shot drifted wide. The miss gifted Essendon victory, while delivering St Kilda its first taste of defeat for the season.

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