Jake Stringer kicked three goals before copping an injury in Essendon's AFL win over Collingwood. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Stringer hurt in Bombers’ upset over Pies

2020-07-03 23:14:42

Essendon overcame a slow start and survived a late Collingwood fightback to give their AFL finals push a massive boost with a stunning 15-point upset of the premiership fancies on Friday night.

Dylan Shiel was everywhere with 29 disposals and seven clearances as Jake Stringer kicked three goals in the 10.3 (63) to 7.6 (48) win at the MCG.

But Stinger limped off in the dying stages with a right ankle injury that could put a sour note on the victory.

The Bombers star headed straight to the change room and was later spotted on crutches before leaving the venue.

“I haven’t really had a chance to look yet other than knowing he’s got a sore ankle,” Essendon coach John Worsfold told reporters post-match.

“He was walking on it just then, so that’s a good sign, but we have to now get it fully assessed going forward.”

Collingwood kicked the first three goals of the game in the opening 12 minutes but didn’t manage another until early in the final term.

In between, Essendon midfielders Shiel, Devon Smith and Andrew McGrath took the game away from them at the contest and stand-in captain Michael Hurley marshalled a magnificent rebound defence.

The Bombers kicked eight consecutive goals and led by 28 points early in the final term before Collingwood threw caution to the wind, booting four quick goals to trim the margin back to three points.

But Essendon steadied when Jacob Townsend caught Darcy Moore holding the ball and converted the free kick.

Shiel fittingly kicked the sealer late in the match.

The Bombers dominated clearances (38-28), scored freely from stoppages and took their pressure game to new heights for large periods after coming under fire for a poor display in that department six days earlier.

“What we were most excited about was how we set up at our stoppages and how we started to move the ball more how we’ve been planning to move it,” Worsfold said.

“We were stagnant last week (against Carlton) but the players responded really well.

“We didn’t try to change too much and panic we got down early, we stuck to what we’ve been talking about and working on.”

Will Snelling was penalised for a dangerous tackle in an incident that will be hotly debated in the coming days, but Worsfold did not buy into it.

He reserved praise for former Carlton ruckman Andrew Phillips, who was competitive in his first outing for the Bombers as a replacement for Tom Bellchambers.

Hurley and fellow key defender Cale Hooker were rock solid for most of the night in defence as the likes of Adam Saad and Jordan Ridley provided bounce out of the back half.

Brayden Maynard was outstanding in defence for Collingwood, Adam Treloar racked up 30 disposals on return from injury and Jaidyn Stephenson finished with three goals.

But the Pies missed ball magnet Sidebottom and injured star defender Jeremy Howe, and had few winners on the night despite almost pinching the win in the final term.

The AFL ticked off on a controversial score review during the third quarter that declared Jordan De Goey’s shot at goal a behind after it hit the goal umpire.