AFL season for Essendon. The 34 current and former players who were serving provisional suspensions after being given infraction notices by ASADA last November over the 2012 supplements program were finally cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal just days before the start of Round 1. While this meant our 13 current players could finally play in the team, they hadn't had any match preparation until our first game last week against Sydney. Although we started strong and had a 41 point lead into the third quarter against the Grand Finalists, we ended up fading in the fourth quarter and got overrun, losing to Sydney by 12 points.
For today's Round 2 match we faced the reigning Premiers Hawthorn. No one really had any hope that we could win, especially after Hawthorn's emphatic win over Geelong last week. I joined Tash and her mum and sister at the MCG, seated behind the Hawthorn goals for the game. Amazingly Essendon had another fantastic start and we were up by 22 points at half time (which should have been more but we allowed two late goals before the siren). In the third quarter Hawthorn started to come back, and we went into the fourth quarter with an 8 point lead and a sense of deja vu from last week.
Hawthorn kept coming and eventually went in front by 16 points midway through the fourth quarter. Although it looked like the game was over, the Essendon players did not give up and they cut Hawthorn's lead down to 10 points with 2 minutes left to play. We then somehow managed to kick two goals in a little over a minute, with defender Cale Hooker's goal putting Essendon back in front by 2 points with 57 seconds left on the clock. The ball was back in Hawthorn's 50 as time ran down, and they would have won the game had the siren not sounded a couple seconds before Luke Breust kicked the ball through the goal. The Essendon supporters erupted as we somehow managed to beat the best team in the competition, while the Hawthorn fans were in shock that they lost the game. As the Essendon club song played over the loud speakers former coach Kevin Sheedy walked around the boundary waving his scarf over his head and the crowd joined in. It was a great moment and a fantastic win for the club.
Essendon: 12.6 (78)
Hawthorn: 11.10 (76)