Essendon survived a very real scare from a supercharged St Kilda on Sunday while Fremantle and Port Adelaide ran over the top of Melbourne and Adelaide respectively in the other games.
Melbourne suffered the heaviest loss of the day, with coach Paul Roos visibly frustrated with his side in the box while Scott Thompson’s last-quarter heroics weren’t enough to see the Crows avoid a loss in ‘The Showdown’.
But it was at Docklands where drama ensued as Essendon speedster Travis Colyer kicked the match-winning goal in a classic arm-wrestle.
The Saints blew chances late in the match and the Bombers held on to win 11.16 (82) to 11.14 (80).
Jake Carlisle kicked four goals for the Bombers and Josh Bruce booted five for St Kilda, while Saints midfielder David Armitage had 35 possessions and was best afield.
Essendon trailed by four points midway through the last quarter and were heading into attack when Patrick Ambrose’s handball was intercepted.
The Saints streamed into attack and Adam Schneider marked in front of goal.
But he missed the set shot and the Bombers went coast-to-coast from the kickout, with Colyer launching a blistering run and kicking the goal to put his side ahead.
That was the 11th and final lead change of the match.
Meanwhile at the Adelaide Oval, Port banked their third win of the season with an 18.7 (115) to 13.13 (91) triumph against their arch rival at Adelaide Oval.
Jay Schulz led an accurate forward line for the Power, who prevailed despite having less scoring shots.
Port tall Paddy Ryder kicked three goals and Kane Mitchell, Justin Westhoff, Chad Wingard and Hamish Hartlett each scored two.
The Crows, despite Eddie Betts booting five goals and the best efforts of Patrick Dangerfield, who gathered a game-high 36 disposals, fluffed a series of shots at goals which ultimately proved costly.
In the day’s early game, methodical Fremantle maintained their perfect start to the AFL season, taking apart Melbourne by 68 points to record a fifth straight win.
Ross Lyon’s side sit alone as the only unbeaten side at the top of the AFL ladder after their 18.10 (118) to 6.14 (50) victory at the MCG.
Bidding to win back-to-back games for the first time in five years, Melbourne were never in the contest after shipping the first four goals within the opening 10 minutes.