The Essendon Bombers have become the first team since August 2019 to defeat the West Coast Eagles in Perth in a regular season game.
Maybe the season really has turned around for Essendon.
The Bombers turned around a 29-point deficit to upset West Coast by 16 points at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
In doing so, they won their third consecutive game, for the first time under coach Ben Rutten.
The Bombers also snapped West Coasts 12-game regular season winning streak at Optus Stadium, becoming the first team to defeat the Eagles in Perth in a regular season game since 2019.
They go into Sunday inside the top eight.
It took Jake Stringer a while to get into the game, but his two final-term goals were crucial.
But former Eagle, Alec Waterman, cruelly kicked the goal with six minutes to go to put his new side 15 points ahead and cement the 12.14 (86) to 11.5 (71) victory.
Earlier in the season, the Bombers lost three games by less than a goal, to Hawthorn, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney.
However, they found a way against Fremantle in Round 9, the first victory of their current streak. And after they looked gone against West Coast, they piled on seven of the last eight goals of the game for a famous victory.
Third quarter turnaround
Known as the premiership quarter, the third term has not been a strength for Essendon this season.
Going into this game, they had lost eight of 10 third term, including the past six.
So when they trailed West Coast by 17 points at the main break, the Bombers looked in trouble.
When Josh Kennedy kicked the first goal after the main break, his third, and the margin blew out to 25 points, the threat of floodgates opening was real.
And those floodgates did open, with the Bombers kicking the last four goals of the term.
Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett’s good work in the midfield started to reap rewards.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti started getting busy in attack and when Stringer knocked one through from the boundary line from a set shot, the margin fell back into single figures.
Nik Cox failed to kick his second goal for the term, just before the siren, leaving the margin at three points at the final break.
One in, two out
The Eagles missed two of their stars in the second half.
While they welcomed back dual All-Australian Elliot Yeo, Tim Kelly and Oscar Allen sat and watched the game unveil from the bench, injured.
Kelly had 11 touches in the opening term and helped the home side open up a narrow two-point lead at the first break.
But a Merrett tackle in the centre square at the opening bounce of the second quarter ended with Kelly in an uncomfortable splits possession.
He limped off the ground minutes later and was subbed out with a knee injury.
Kelly has been crucial for the Eagles in the absence of Yeo and Luke Shuey due to injury, averaging more than 27 possessions per game this season.
Yeo played his first game since Round 11 of last season, missing the Eagles last eight games of 2020, including the one-point loss to Collingwood in the Elimination Final.
Allen landed awkwardly from a marking contest late in the second term and didn’t see any ground time in the second half due to a head injury.
The Eagles sharpshooting forwards were on song early and ended the first half with an accurate 9.0 om the board.
The Bombers had three more scoring shots in the first two quarters, but trailed by 17 points.
Jake Stringer, returning from injury, had just two handballs in the first quarter. When he finally got his chance in the second, he slaughtered both shots on goal.
Eagle Josh Kennedy didn’t, making him pay after taking a contested mark and kicking his second goal for the term from a tight and difficult angle.
McDonald-Tipungwuti and Kyle Langford made the most of their rare chances in the last two minutes of the term to kick goals and make the margin manageable.
EAGLES 3.0 9.0 10.5 11.5 71
BOMBERS 2.4 5.7 9.8 12.15 87
ELBOROUGH’S BEST Eagles: Sheed, Naitanui, Hurn, Gaff, Redden, Rotham. Bombers: Merrett, Parish, Langford, Heppell, Laverde, Stringer.
GOALS Eagles: Kennedy 3; Waterman 2; Ryan, Sheed, Cripps, Petruccelle, Darling, Ah Chee. Bombers: Stringer 3; Hooker 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2; Cox, Langford, Jones, Snelling, Waterman.
INJURIES Eagles: Kelly (knee), Allen (head). Bombers: Wright (calf, replaced in selected side by Jones), Zerk-Thatcher (head).
UMPIRES Margetts, Dalgleish, Johanson, Fry.
VENUE Optus Stadium
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BRAD ELBOROUGH’S VOTES
3 Merrett (Bombers)
2 Sheed (Eagles)
3 Parish (Bombers)