There was two games on Anzac Day, with Hawthorn and Sydney accompanying the traditional blockbuster between Essendon and Collingwood.
The Hawks got off to a flyer with the first five goals, but were ran down by a youthful and exuberant Sydney outfit to lose by 41 points.
The Pies were able to join the winner’s list after an 11-point win over the struggling Bombers. Jack Ginnivan was awarded the medal for best afield with his five goals as Craig McRae and his team move to 3-3 after round 6.
Here are some of the key takeaways.
Hawthorn vs Sydney
1. Sydney’s youth are going to be a threat
After a sluggish start against the Hawks, Sydney finally got the ball rolling as they ran away with it to win by 41 points. Callum Mills, Justin McInerney and Chad Warner were all pivotal in the Swans’ comeback. Mills collected 37 touches and kicked a goal when the game was in the balance, while McInerney (22 touches and 1 goal) and Warner (24 disposals and two goals) were also crucial in getting Sydney over the line.
2. McCartin can’t catch a break
Paddy McCartin was subbed out of the game after failing a concussion test that saw him replaced by Josh Kennedy. McCartin was brought to the bench after being involved in two heavy collisions, including copping a knee to the head from Chad Wingard. Despite his frustration, the ex-Saint was unable to pass the assessment and unfortunately will miss at least next week’s game against Brisbane. McCartin has found a new home at the Swans, playing down back alongside his brother, Tom. The 26-year-old has played every game this year and is an integral part of the defensive half to John Longmire.
3. Mills could be the Swans best player
Callum Mills had his best game for the club against Hawthorn on Anzac Day. Mills finished the game with 37 disposals, six clearances and a goal. After the Swans’ slow start that saw the Hawks kick the first five majors of the game, it was Mills’ second term that saw his side wrestle back momentum and give themselves a winning chance. The 25-year-old was able to get on top of Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara in what was a close contest up until the last 10 minutes of the game. Sydney piled on nine last quarter goals to one, which resulted in a 41-point victory. Mills ran at 92% disposal efficiency along with 11 score involvements to ensure the Swans remained in touch with the top of the ladder.
4. Hawthorn took another step forward
Despite the loss, Sam Mitchell and his team can be pleased with the output against contenders Sydney. Jumping out to a 34-point lead early in the first term, the Hawks looked prime to take another scalp as they continue to defy critics about their performances. Unfortunately this time around, Hawthorn was unable to maintain their pressure and goal scoring ability, as they watched the Swans outwork and outplay them in the last quarter. However, for the better part of the game, Hawthorn were up on all key statistics and were able to defend valiantly, as the Swans inside 50 count was well above average. The Hawks defence consisting of Denver Grainger-Barras, Sam Frost, James Sicily and Blake Hardwick were able to hold off Sydney’s until the dam wall finally broke. The Swans poise themselves as a top four side and the fact Hawthorn were in the game for three and a half quarters suggests their improvement could be a step or two ahead of expectation.
5. The substitute makes a difference
Once Paddy McCartin was subbed out after failing a concussion test, veteran Josh Kennedy was injected into the game in the third term. Kennedy was able to collect 11 disposals and four score involvements as the Swans outscored the Hawks with 12 goals to three in the second half. The 33-year-old was able to win the ball around the ground and help Sydney get back on top. However, Hawthorn did not make a substitute, as all players were deemed healthy to run out the game. Collingwood coach Craig McRae flagged the idea that once one team activated their substitute, the opposing side is able to use theirs if desired. The fact that Kennedy’s fresh legs played a part in helping the Swans become victorious only alludes to the fact that the rule can be unfair at times and there should be a discussion surrounding the introduced rule.
Essendon vs Collingwood
1. Ginnivan: love him or hate him, he’s got x-factor
Quickly becoming a public figure, Jack Ginnivan had a day to remember in his first Anzac Day clash. The live-wire was able to kick five goals, including one in the last quarter to help seal Collingwood’s victory over Essendon in a thriller. Of late, Ginnivan has been criticised for his antics on field, as opposition fans believe he ducks for free kicks and eggs on unnecessary drama. However, Ginnivan’s tricks to get under the skin of opposition seem to have worked, as he is quickly becoming one of the elite small forwards of the competition. Only missing one game due to soreness, the 19-year-old has kicked 11 goals so far and looks to be a viable option up forward for the black-and-white.
2. Darcy Parish loves the Anzac Day stage
After an Anzac Day medal-winning performance in last year’s edition of the game, Darcy Parish tried to one up himself, as he ended the first half with a record of 30 disposals. In a seesawing affair, which saw the lead change multiple times, Parish was able to consistently find the ball throughout stoppages as well as on the outside. Finishing the game with an equal career-best 44 touches along with 12 clearances and seven score involvements, the Bomber silenced critics from previous weeks. Collingwood coach Craig McRae was unable to curb his influence for much of the day as Parish came second in the Anzac Day Medal voting behind goal sneak Jack Ginnivan.
3. Collingwood accuracy a factor
In such a tight game, we knew the victors were going to be the one who took most of their chances. The Anzac Day game had everything as both Essendon and Collingwood were leading and looked to go on as eventual winners. However, the Magpies accuracy in front of goal was the tale, kicking 15 majors and three behinds to the Bombers’ 12 goals and 10 behinds. Craig McRae’s men were down on their usual style of play, forcing turnovers in the front half with manic pressure and scrapping for scores. They had to find new ways to score, which included kicking out of their back half. In a close encounter, Essendon went inside 50 more times than Collingwood (52-48) but it was Jack Ginnivan (5 goals) and Brody Mihocek (4 goals) who were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The Pies’ have bounced back from inaccurate games against West Coast and Geelong and found themselves back on the winners’ list.
4. Anzac Day game means so much to so many people
In a day dedicated to those who have sacrificed for their country, the traditional Anzac Day game was once again a great tribute. The MCG was filled with 84,000 people, the biggest crowd since the 2019 AFL Grand Final after the game suffered from a global pandemic known as COVID-19. Since its introduction in 1995, both Collingwood and Essendon have celebrated and honoured the Anzac spirit, as invitations to past and current war veterans is just one act of giving back to what they give everyday. In the essence that it was intended, 2022’s edition had no stone left unturned as both sides gave an entertaining clash. Although it’s not its closest finish in its 27-year history, the Pies managed to scrap through as 11-point winners over a trying Essendon outfit as the nation stopped to commemorate Anzac Day.
5. Brodie Grundy may have found a spark
Brodie Grundy has seemed down on his usual output, with the dual All-Australian looking a pace behind what he’s capable of. Being listed as one of the premier ruckman in the competition, Grundy receives a lot of attention from opposition sides as they try curbing his influence. The Anzac Day game saw a great battle between Grundy and Sam Draper, who had his measure up until the final term. Draper’s physical game style and ability to drop back in defence had the Collingwood star looking lost at times as he tried to work his way into the biggest home-and-away game of the year. However, with the game in the balance, Grundy was able to set up a goal to fellow vice-captain Taylor Adams as well as kick one himself in the final term. The number 4 was able to halve stoppages and deny Essendon’s dominance around the clearances. Although not putting up his best stats we know he’s capable of, Grundy’s goal showed just what it meant to him by pulling on his black-and-white jersey and essentially sealing another Anzac Day classic.