Hird brilliance steers Bombers home - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hird brilliance steers Bombers home

By Guy Hand 08/06/2007 11:41:36 PM Comments (0)

Essendon superstar James Hird's farewell tour bus rolled into Telstra Dome, flicked into overdrive, and crushed AFL leaders West Coast under their wheels in a one-point thriller.

Hird was inspirational for the Bombers when it mattered, gathering 32 possessions and leading his side's fightback from a five-goal halftime deficit to beat the premiers 15.5 (95) to 14.10 (94).

Forward Scott Lucas kicked five goals for Essendon and it was a David Hille behind with two minutes remaining that eventually proved the decider in a tense, tough match.

But it was Hird, in what is expected to be his last season, who sparked his side back into a match it looked out of when trailing by 36 points midway through the second term.

It was the Bombers' second successive win by a point after they beat Sydney last weekend, and their fourth straight victory.

West Coast led by 30 points at halftime and looked like cruising to victory after a brilliant start for which the Bombers appeared to have no answers.

Hird, onballer Jason Winderlich, Lucas and skipper Matthew Lloyd lifted the Bombers in the third, with Lloyd and Lucas kicking two each in the quarter to bring their side back to within a goal late in the term.

Essendon opened the fourth with the opening three goals - Lucas' fourth giving the Bombers the lead for the first time in the match at the six-minute mark of the final term.

A Chris Judd goal and a Rowan Jones behind brought the sides level, sparking a desperate final few minutes from both sides.

Finally Hille booted a behind from a set shot to break a 94-all deadlock, before the Bombers managed to hang on as the Eagles could not find a way past.

As well as Lucas' five goals, Lloyd finished with three, while Hird, Winderlich and Damien Peverill were outstanding in the midfield.

Brent Staker led the way for the Eagles with three goals.

West Coast could lose their spot atop the ladder by the end of the round after sliding to an 8-3 win-loss record, while the Bombers have surged to 7-4.

West Coast coach John Worsfold was lamenting his side's waywardness in front of goal in the first quarter when they could have effectively wrapped up the match.

The Eagles kicked 5.5 to the Bombers' solitary goal in that term, dominating the inside 50s in an awesome display of muscle as Essendon could not get the hands on the footy.

But Bombers counterpart Kevin Sheedy paid tribute to his side's determination to fight back from their first term towelling by the Eagles.

"You've got to give the team confidence in that situation - they couldn't find the ball early in the match," said Sheedy, who rallied his team in the middle of the ground at quarter-time for an address which helped lay the groundwork for the fightback.

"If things aren't going well, you need confidence. You just keep moving in the direction, kick a couple of goals ... coaching is not about criticising in those sort of situations.

"It's one of our better wins. It's a great win, no doubt about that."

The loss was the Eagles' third straight on the road - those defeats the only ones of West Coast's year.

"If we'd played only a couple of per cent better, we would have won the game," Worsfold said.

"When the opposition grabbed every chance they had and were very very good, and we miss a couple of easy shots at goal ...

"We want to kick better for goal, and if we don't we are vulnerable."

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