Collingwood have once again showed their modern-day dominance of Anzac Day football, earning a tough 20-point win over Essendon.
Against the form guide, Nathan Buckley’s side won their fifth Anzac Day contest in six years, triumphing 9.15 (69) to 6.13 (49) on a wet MCG.
Rain through the morning ensured a scrappy contest, which finished with almost twice as many behinds as goals.
Collingwood were powered by Anzac Day medallist Paul Seedsman, who kicked the Magpies inside 50 a remarkable 14 times and charged into every contest.
Seedsman gained a whopping 918 metres for Collingwood, more than double that of any other player.
Medal judges had a pack of Magpies to pick from, with Jack Crisp, Taylor Adams, Jamie Elliot and their entire back line all making strong contributions.
Collingwood’s win was earned through effort rather than statistical domination.
The Bombers set themselves to play uncontested football, chipping and marking their way across the MCG.
In contrast, Collingwood set themselves for a scrap, often kicking long to contests and looking to dominate at ground level.
Buckley said his side had the advantage of two previous wet weather wins to count on.
“The weather today was going to ask for that heavy contested style,” he said.
“There’s more than one way to move the pill.”
The Magpies’ plan worked in the first term, though Elliot’s opening goal from outside the boundary line was highly dubious.
It wasn’t until mid-way through the second quarter that Essendon’s engine started to work.
The Bombers were on a run of five straight behinds until Dustin Fletcher in his 18th Anzac Day game broke the deadlock.
The veteran’s bomb from 60 metres was just his second goal in three seasons and richly savoured by many in the 88,395 crowd.
Brent Stanton’s goal shortly after helped Essendon to a nine point lead, their biggest of the match.
But Collingwood returned to the front with another Elliot effort and never gave their advantage up.
Buckley paid tribute to his fleet of young guns, exemplified by Crisp who nullified Jobe Watson.
“We’ve still got a lot to prove, we’ve still got a lot of growth in us,” he said.
“But we’re not afraid of taking on the challenge … young and old we’re buying into that.”
Essendon midfielders Dyson Heppell, Brent Stanton and Cale Hooker were among the Bombers’ best.
Hird said his team needed to learn to adapt to conditions.
“The most disappointing was the way we moved the football, trying to play dry weather football when it was a wet weather day,” he said.