Sport AFL Essendon end dreadful year on a high note
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Essendon end dreadful year on a high note

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Essendon have finished their AFL year to forget on a high, downing traditional rivals Collingwood by three points in barnstorming finish to the home and away season.

Heath Hocking kicked the last two goals of the match to push the Bombers to a 14.11 (95) to 14.8 (92) victory at the MCG.

The thrilling finish handed caretaker coach Matthew Egan a winning finish to his tenure, snapping a seven-game losing streak and promising better things to come for the Bombers.

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After spending much of the second half behind, Hocking put the Bombers ahead with less than 90 seconds to play.

There was an end-of-school feel to the match with just 40,270 in attendance – the lowest crowd to this fixture since it was last played at Windy Hill in 1988.

With neither playing finals in 2015, it was being played for skittles rather than sheep stations.

But in the last quarter it didn’t feel that way, with the Bombers holding on to condemn their rivals to a 10-12 season record.

The Magpies were 10 points ahead when Alex Fasolo found an early major, and looked home when he had another shot at goal.

But the West Australian blazed his shot out on the full and the Bombers surged back into the contest.

Set shot majors from Cale Hooker and Hocking either side of Darcy Moore’s reply set up the show-stopping finish.

Shaun Edwards and Joe Daniher, who was concussed earlier in the match, missed chances to steal back the lead in the frenetic circumstances.

Up stepped Hocking, who found space in the pocket and kicked truly to ensure that, for at least one day in September, the Bombers were winners.

Earlier, Melbourne ended their best season under Paul Roos on a high by scrapping their way to a drought-breaking 26-point win over Greater Western Sydney.

The Demons took a 22-game losing streak at Etihad Stadium but a Nathan Jones-inspired third quarter set up the 15.13 (103) to 11.11 (77) victory – their first at the venue since 2007.

It was something of a shame, however, that just 8974 fans were there to watch what was one of the better four-quarter efforts by Melbourne in the second half of the year.

Experienced hands Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross and Jones were important on the ball but got plenty of support from younger midfielders like Jack Viney and Christian Salem.

Jesse Hogan and Ben Newton each booted three goals, while Tom McDonald had the better of his duel with Jeremy Cameron.

Cross, who reluctantly announced his retirement this week, put in an influential 25-possession performance, suggesting he can rightly feel disappointed the Demons decided against offering him a new contract.

His 249th and final game came to an early end, however, when he was stretchered off early in the last quarter after knocking himself out in a typically courageous marking attempt.

– with AAP

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