Bombers spoil Daniher farewell - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers spoil Daniher farewell

By Roger Vaughan 29/06/2007 11:57:18 PM Comments (0)

Essendon rallied from a 17-point deficit in the last quarter to spoil Neale Daniher's farewell with a thrilling two-point win over Melbourne at Telstra Dome.

Scott Lucas soccered through his fifth goal with less than 10 seconds remaining to give the Bombers a get-out-of-jail win, 19.11 (125) to 18.15 (123).

Daniher, who announced this week that the match would be his last game as Demons coach, cut a disconsolate figure as he went to his players on the ground after the final siren.

He then waved to the crowd and walked off with his team around him.

A Melbourne win would have been a fitting going-away present for Daniher and a glaring indictment on the Bombers, who looked to have killed off the match in the first quarter.

Veteran James Hird was best for Essendon and Melbourne midfielder James McDonald was best afield with a game-high 26 possessions.

McDonald was one of few Melbourne players to start well and was pivotal as his side worked its way back into the match.

Trailing by 19 points at half-time, Melbourne had kicked seven goals to two in the third term to lead by 13 points at the final change.

A scuffle involving most of the players on the ground broke out immediately after the three-quarter time siren when Essendon captain Matthew Lloyd missed his shot at goal.

The Demons had plenty of chances to ice the game in the last term, but paid for their inaccuracy in the last term, kicking 2.6.

After Aaron Davey goalled at 20 minutes to put the Demons ahead by 17, Essendon kicked the last three goals of the match.

After trailing by 37 points at quarter time and looking set for a dismal night, Melbourne recovered brilliantly in the second term to trail at the main break by only 19 points.

The Demons kicked the first five goals of the second quarter and were only two points behind at the 26-minute mark when Davey ran into goal.

But Davey's shot missed, making the margin one point.

The Bombers then rallied with the last three goals of the half, including a straight kick after the siren from Jason Laycock.

Daniher decided this week he would leave the Demons after the match, following the club's decision to conduct a full review of their football operations.

Assistant Mark Riley will take over as caretaker coach for the rest of the season.

Melbourne started this season thinking they were a top-four chance, but the loss marked their 11th from 13 games.

Melbourne captain David Neitz was clearly not fit and probably would not have returned to the side had it not been such a big occasion, but he led brilliantly with three goals.

Russell Robertson, unsighted in the first half, lifted for Melbourne with three goals in the third quarter.

Lloyd kicked four goals and his second, scored during the opening term, made him the 10th player in AFL history to reach the 800 milestone.

Daniher was behind closed doors in the rooms after the game with players and officials for more than half an hour .

"It was a bit of a morgue, actually, but we had a beer each and that changed the feel in the room and it's important," he said.

"Win, lose or draw, I wanted them to be able to hold their heads high.

"It didn't look too good in the first quarter. I might have overcooked them again ... but I was really proud of the way they got back into the game."

Daniher said it was more important for the players than himself that they recovered from their poor start.

He added Melbourne had struggled at the start of the game with the enormity of the occasion.

"It was a more a game for them than me, in a sense. I just wanted them to feel good about themselves.

"It's not often the coach gets the last game and knows it's the last game, so it's very tough on the players.

"They know 'aw gee, we don't want to let him down' and all that sort of stuff, and we really struggled with that early.

"What comes with that is the guilts, so we just needed to settle them a bit at quarter-time - they were fantastic after that."

While he was stern-faced on the field, Daniher was far more relaxed after spending time privately with his team post-match.

"Whatever it was, it was better than what I said before the game," he joked about his quarter-time address.

"I don't know how emotional I am, it's been a good journey and I just told them now they've got to get on with it.

"My time is up, I just wanted to spend 10 minutes with them.

"We just had a few laughs, a few jokes, a bit of reminiscing - I'm just generally a pretty funny guy."

Daniher also paid tribute to Neitz, who had injured himself earlier this month.

"He was super, wasn't he - his knee is buggered, he broke his finger, he probably shouldn't have played for four weeks," Daniher said.

"He's got a heart of gold, that boy, and we have a special relationship. He wanted to play - I thought he was super."

There was a marked contrast between the moods of the two coaches post-match.

While Daniher was cracking jokes after meeting with his players, Essendon's coach Kevin Sheedy was stern.

The win took Essendon to eight wins from 13 games, but Sheedy was far from pleased.

"It (the win) was obviously crucial for us, it was a game we were very, very fortunate to win," he said.

"It was a disappointing performance, to be honest. We've got to get our minds right about playing four quarters.

"We just cannot front up and play well in the first quarter like that and let a team get back in the game by halftime.

"We're going to have to really look at our side and make some changes, I think.

"Maybe we just won because we would not give up."

He added the Bombers would have to play much better in the next fortnight against top side Geelong and likely finalists the Western Bulldogs.

As he had done earlier this week, Sheedy paid rich tribute to Daniher, who played under Sheedy at Essendon and was also a former Bombers assistant coach.

Sheedy admitted to thinking about Daniher as he walked from the coach's box at the end of the game.

He had no doubt Daniher would coach at senior AFL level again.

"He's a class bloke, an absolutely class person, and he's a pretty classy coach," Sheedy said.

"He got them to the grand final with one of the youngest teams in the history of the game (2000, when Melbourne lost to Essendon).

"Melbourne people would probably think 'well, he's been there 10 years' - it's a hard call, isn't it.

"If (they) won a premiership, he'd probably still be there. Those sorts of things happen."

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