K rock Football

Dons hold off late Docker surge

STAR recruit Dylan Shiel has booted two late goals to help Essendon to a nail-biting seven-point AFL win over Fremantle at Marvel Stadium.

Shiel kicked his first two majors for the Bombers during a pressure-packed final term on Saturday night, but the Dockers stormed home with the last three goals to fall agonisingly short in the 8.12 (60) to 7.11 (53) result.

Not much separated the sides in a tight and often dour contest in front of 29,176 fans, but the home side looked to have secured the premiership points when they opened up a game-high 26-point lead in the last quarter.

But with just under eight minutes remaining, Michael Walters’ goal from a contentious free kick was followed by a major to Jesse Hogan.

Then Brandon Matera set up a frantic final three minutes with his second goal of the night, but John Worsfold’s side was able to hang on.

Shiel had 25 possessions in an eye-catching display, while Zach Merrett (35) and David Zaharakis (32) were also important as the Bombers snapped a three-match losing streak to improve to a 4-5 record.

David Mundy was the standout for Fremantle with 34 disposals, with Nat Fyfe also influential with 24.

In a first half more notable for the desperation shown by both sides than the execution of basic skills, Fremantle led by a goal at the first break before Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti sparked the Bombers.

The livewire forward hadn’t kicked a goal in any of Essendon’s five losses this season so it was a good omen when he gathered a loose ball deep in a pocket then evaded tacklers to snap truly midway through the second quarter.

While his second major that followed not long after wasn’t quite as spectacular, it helped the home side to a slender two-point lead at halftime.

Strong body work and quick thinking from Joe Daniher helped Jake Stringer convert from close range and when McDonald-Tipungwuti added his third the margin was out to 14 points midway through the third quarter.

But in a game short on highlights, Mundy’s class stood out when he stroked home a brilliant goal late in the term to make it an eight-point game

Back-to-back goals to Shiel to open the final term settled the home fans nerves only for the Dockers to launch their brave final onslaught.

© AAP 2019

ESSENDON 1.3 3.7 5.11 8.12 (60)

FREMANTLE 2.3 3.5 4.9 7.11 (53)

Goals: Essendon: A McDonald-Tipungwuti 3 D Shiel 2 A Francis D Zaharakis J Stringer. Fremantle: B Matera 2 D Mundy D Tucker E Langdon J Hogan M Walters.

Umpires: Matt Stevic, Mathew Nicholls, Alex Whetton.

Official Crowd: 29,176 at Marvel Stadium.