Adelaide left fuming over last second call in Essendon loss

Essendon has outlasted the Crows by five points in an Adelaide Oval thriller after a controversial last-minute decision didn’t penalise Sam Draper for holding the ball.

Draper dived on the ball deep in the Bombers’ defence in the dying seconds as he was tackled by two Crows, however there was no infringement cited by the umpires to seal the result.

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It meant Essendon won 10.18 (78) to 11.9 (75) to see Brad Scott’s side improve to 4-2 on the season, while Adelaide fell to 1-5.

The Bombers epitomised grit and determination in an inspiring Friday night performance that sees them move inside the top eight on the ladder.

But the victory wasn’t without controversy in the dying stages.

With the ball deep inside Adelaide’s forward 50, Essendon ruck Draper dived on the ball to force a stoppage, with half a dozen Crows players thrusting their arms out pleading to the umpires to award them a free kick for holding the ball.

The umpire did not pay a free kick against Draper and the siren sounded marking a gutsy Essendon victory.

“I’m pretty speechless … what a win,” Essendon captain Zach Merrett said post-game.

“We mucked up a few of those games last year.

“Amazing effort, an amazing game.

“To get the four points is amazing, but I thought the way we grinded through that third quarter … to fight back and get the result gives us a lot of confidence ahead of ANZAC Day next week.”

There were no late changes, with Lachie Sholl (Adelaide) and Elijah Tsatas (Essendon) named the starting subs.

The Bombers started hot in enemy territory including kicking the first goal of the night within a minute and a half via Harrison Jones.

But for all of Essendon’s dominance in the first half of the opening term, it could only manage one to goal to go with three behinds in an inefficient display.

Ben Keays would capitalise on a rare opportunity at the other end of the ground to get the Crows on the board.

“It’s that final kick going in. They need to lower their vision,” Channel 7 commentator Luke Hodge bemoaned after another Essendon inside 50 misfired.

Jade Gresham kicked a brilliant goal on the run to regain some breathing space for the visitors, with the commentators the recruit looks “happy” at his new club.

Taylor Walker had the last laugh of the opening term with a long-range goal

Demons great Garry Lyon noted on Fox Footy the Bombers “owned the ball, the territory and almost everything” in the first quarter, but that Adelaide managed to stay within arm’s length on the scoreboard.

Zach Merrett, who’d been enormous, received a free kick deep in defence for a high tackle from Jake Soligo despite Merrett appearing to duck his head in a dubious call.

Ben Hobbs kicked the opening goal of the second quarter to extend the Bombers’ lead to 15 points.

Jake Stringer followed with a crafty snap goal to give Essendon a game-high 21-point advantage.

Just when it seemed the Bombers were getting away, two clumsy moments – a Sam Draper 50m penalty and Jayden Laverde turnover on the last line of defence – led to two Crows goals to change the complexion of the game.

“Wow, that’s all I can say, two really bad errors,” Channel 7 caller Brian Taylor said.

Then, in perhaps the biggest moment of the game yet, Jordan Dawson capped off a huge five-minute match with an intercept mark from a kick in and long-range goal – his second in a row – as Adelaide Oval exploded.

Dawson then got stuck into Sam Durham afterwards to prompt a heated moment between both sides.

“He’s energised the them, the skipper,” Channel 7 caller Matthew Richardson said.

Essendon led 4.9 (39) to 5.4 (34) at half-time time after Darcy Fogarty missed a set shot on the siren that could’ve evened the scores.

It was a tight and tough tussle to start the third term as both sides played a more conservative brand.

Adelaide broke the game open halfway through the period though with goals to Soligo and Josh Rachele to make it a 13-point Crows lead.

“This is a great comeback by the Crows, Dawson has led the way. He took responsibility,” Richardson said.

Taylor added: “It’s a barrage at the moment and the Bombers haven’t got the answer.”

Adelaide continued firing with Ned McHenry finishing a hot play with a soccer goal to give the hosts their biggest lead of the game at 17.

Jones got one back for the Bombers when they needed it most, while Kyle Langford added another in a crucial response after seven-straight Crows goals.

A Langford goal at three-quarter time gave Essendon a two-point lead, 8.14 (62) to 9.6 (60).

The Crows looked to again break the game open in the fourth term with the first goal to take the lead back then another as they threatened to run away with it with their vocal fans behind them.

Merrett broke the run with a crucial response for the Dons to make it a one-point game.

Nic Martin gave Essendon the lead back with a mammoth long-range goal in a wild back and fourth contest.

Adelaide pushed hard in the dying minutes as the ball lived in its forward half, though it missed multiple chances.

The Crows pushed until the final seconds of the game, with Draper’s move the final act of the game.

“Looks to me like he fell on it then hooked it back in,” Demons great Garry Lyon said.

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley added: “That’s a brain fade … technically that is in any part of the field of any part of the game holding the ball.”

Triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown added: “It’s not a brain fade, it’s a winning moment.”

Originally published as Adelaide left fuming over last second call in Essendon loss

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