Melbourne Cricket Ground - Pies hold off Dons in Anzac Day beauty
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Pies hold off Dons in Anzac Day beauty

Apr 25, 2011

Essendon's Kyle Hardingham and Collingwood's Nick Maxwell on Anzac Day, 2011 at the MCG.Collingwood has withstood a spirited Essendon challenge to notch a five-goal AFL victory at the MCG to remain undefeated this season.

The Magpies won the Anzac Day blockbuster 16.11.107 to 11.1177 in front of 89,626 spectators, the sixth highest Anzac Day crowd and the 10th highest attendance at a home and away match in VFL/AFL history.

It looked like they were set to crush the Bombers in the first term, when they outscored them 4.2 to 0.3.

Magpies midfielder Scott Pendlebury, who won the Anzac Medal as best afield, ran riot, with 12 touches and a goal for the term, while Essendon players made numerous errors and the Bombers' best midfielder Jobe Watson started quietly.

The Bombers' unusual strategy of playing three ruckmen looked set to backfire, with Paddy Ryder and David Hille starting in attack but having almost no impact in the first half.

When Pendlebury kicked his second goal early in the second quarter the Magpies were 29 points clear.

But, with first-year player Dyson Heppell playing an outstanding match off half-back, Watson and Brent Stanton lifting in the midfield and Heath Hocking keeping Magpies star Dane Swan below his usual output, the Bombers gradually created a contest.

Ruckman Tom Bellchambers took his side's first mark inside their attacking 50-metre arc almost 12 minutes into the second quarter to post Essendon's first goal.

Bellchambers also had a big hand in their second, setting up Stewart Crameri with a cleverly-timed handball.

A brilliant snap from Collingwood's Alan Didak and a free kick to key forward Chris Dawes enabled the Magpies to retain a buffer.

But a Watson goal nearing half-time cut the margin at the long break to 20 points and it could have been closer if Leroy Jetta had not kicked three behinds for the second quarter.

Jetta made up for that with a superb third term, kicking two goals himself and setting up another for Hille.

It helped the Bombers close to within a point late in the quarter, before two late Collingwood goals stretched the lead to 14 points at the last change.

The Bombers again charged early in the final quarter, with Crameri (four goals) snapping his third goal and Hille marking strongly for his second to cut the gap to two points.

But they could never quite bridge it, with Collingwood tall forward Travis Cloke goaling twice in less than two minutes, then adding another later in the term, as the Magpies finished strongly.

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