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Collingwood and Essendon draw in Anzac Day classic

Essendon’s Nick Hind is in disbelief after the Anzac Day match against Collingwood ended in a draw.

Essendon’s Nick Hind is in disbelief after the Anzac Day match against Collingwood ended in a draw. Photo: Getty

Essendon’s Kyle Langford has missed a set shot in the dying stages to ensure the Bombers drew with Collingwood in an Anzac Day classic in front of 93,644 fans at the MCG.

Langford, who starred with four goals – including two in a pulsating final quarter – had an opportunity to win the match after taking a mark with less than two minutes left.

But the Bombers forward sprayed his shot from 30 metres, levelling the scores at 12.13 (85) each, to complete the first draw on Anzac Day since the inaugural blockbuster in 1995.

Collingwood had a chance to pinch the match when it immediately surged the ball to the other end, but Magpies forward Jamie Elliott spilled a diving mark near the boundary about 50 metres out.

Essendon tried to go again, but was unable to put the ball back inside its forward 50 before the siren sounded.

Masters of the tight finish under Craig McRae’s coaching tenure, Collingwood traded blows with its arch rivals during a frenetic last quarter that will go down as one of the best home-and-away games in recent times.

Essendon captain Zach Merrett was awarded the Anzac Day Medal with an equal game-high 31 possessions.

The Bombers stunned Collingwood by kicking the first four goals of the game, converting all of their inside-50 entries into scores after dominating the centre clearances.

But as they has done almost weekly during McRae’s tenure as coach, the Magpies surged back into the contest after being 27 points down.

As it did against Port Adelaide last Saturday when it trailed by a concerning margin early, Collingwood got going late in the first quarter.

The Magpies carried a one-point buffer into the last term after Essendon tall Harrison Jones missed a set shot after the three-quarter-time siren.

Both teams had their chances in the final term as Collingwood forward Brody Mihocek, who finished with three goals, kicked two gettable set shots out on the full.

Elliott brought down one of the best marks in VFL/AFL history when he soared high on towering Essendon defender Ben McKay’s shoulders in the third quarter.

After taking what could be crowned the mark of the year, Elliott calmly went back and slotted the goal in a very similar spot to when he won a game for Collingwood against Essendon in 2022 with a successful after-the-siren kick.

Star Collingwood veteran Scott Pendlebury became the first VFL/AFL player to reach 10,000 career possessions when he brought up the milestone with a handball late in the first quarter.

The former Magpie captain entered his 390th career match needing just four touches to reach five figures after starting with 5000 handballs and 4996 kicks.

-AAP

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