The AFL’s Hunger Games season marches on with the third draw of the season seeing Adelaide level the game against Collingwood with a goal after the siren.
In a high-scoring, unpredictable shootout on Sunday, the ladder-leading Crows trailed by 50 points early in the third quarter before they conjured up an astonishing comeback to secure a 15.13 (103) to 16.7 (103) result.
Collingwood led by 21 points midway through the final term when Daniel Wells booted his third goal for the match, but the Crows booted the next four majors, with McGovern’s set shot from 30 metres getting the visitors out of jail.
Adelaide coach Don Pyke described the result as “bittersweet”, saying he thought Collingwood had deserved to win the game.
“We sort of stole a couple of points at the end,” he said. “Some of the things we did in the early part of the game just weren’t to the level. But then at 50 points down, they kept persevering and found a way to give themselves a chance.”
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was left frustrated by his side’s failure to execute their game plan after half-time.
“It’s pretty clear – if you give Adelaide turnover opportunities, they’ll take them,” he said. “They’re the best in the comp at it, and we weren’t able to take that away from them for long enough.”
At Etihad Stadium, the Western Bulldogs breathed life back into their premiership defence with a 30-point win over Essendon that temporarily put them back in the top eight.
Jason Johannisen roared with four goals and Marcus Bontempelli showed his class in the 19.13 (127) to 13.19 (97) win.
The Bulldogs broke open the contest in the third term, kicking seven goals to outgun the Bombers in an old-fashioned shootout.
In the high-scoring contest, Joe Daniher was the dominant forward, kicking six goals to take the lead in the race for the Coleman Medal. But the Bulldogs had more routes to goal, beginning with Johannisen starring in front of the crowd of 48,754.
Coach Luke Beveridge said he was starting to see signs of last year’s form after stringing together three straight wins for the first time since September.
“We’ve had to really focus (each week) to remind ourselves of the type of footy we need to play to establish ourselves as a recognisable and threatening team,” he said. “It’s great in the recent three weeks we’ve been able to do that.”
Essendon will rue an inaccurate day out, including six behinds and two out-of-bounds in the last term with the match on the line.
John Worsfold’s side drop out of the eight, but retain a pathway to September with an easier-than-average run home.
In Sunday’s other game, the West Coast Eagles defeated the Brisbane Lions 17.11 (113) to 6.9 (45).
It was another weekend that did little to settle the fate of sides left in finals contention, although St Kilda’s wound suffered on Saturday night looks like a mortal blow.
Mathematically, the Saints are still in contention, but their two-point loss to Port Adelaide may have broken St Kilda’s hearts and season.
Hawthorn sit two points below the Saints on the table, but their equally-tense six-point defeat of high-flying Sydney still gives Alastair Clarkson’s side a sniff of September.
Elsewhere, Melbourne’s fortunes took a hit with a poor loss to strugglers North Melbourne in Hobart.
The Demons couldn’t use the wind in the final quarter on a blustery day and limped to a four-point loss.
They now face a must-win clash with GWS Giants next Saturday, who were unimpressive in beating lowly Fremantle by 12 points.
On a forgettable Saturday night, Geelong and Richmond beat lacklustre opponents – Carlton and Gold Coast respectively – to keep their top four bids on track.