Essendon star Darcy Parish has enjoyed a coming-of-age with a remarkable midfield performance in his side’s ANZAC Day win over Collingwood.
Parish registered a career-best 42 disposals and kicked two goals to be named the ANZAC Medallist as Essendon ran out 16. 13. (109) to 13. 7. (85) winners at the MCG.
Playing in front of the largest sporting crowd since COVID-19, Essendon’s young guns stood up in sensational fashion after Collingwood kicked the first three goals of the contest.
Essendon overcame Collingwood’s early onslaught to lead by single digits at every change before kicking away in a dominant final quarter.
Played out of position in the forward line for the early part of his career, Parish continued his sensational season in his preferred midfield role, and was praised by Melbourne great Garry Lyon for his performance.
“Darcy Parish was taken at No.5 in a pretty red-hot draft and it’s been a slow but steady build,” Lyon told Fox Footy.
“He’s just exploded I reckon. Some moments last year he looked absolutely elite and this year has been another step up.”
Parish was ably supported in the midfield by Zach Merrett (34 dipsosals), while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was unstoppable up forward with five straight goals.
Tipped by many to be a bottom-four side this season, the win continued an impressive month of football which has seen Essendon beat two top eight sides from last year.
Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown said Essendon’s success was stemming from finally executing a consistent game style under new coach Ben Rutten.
“The Bombers have made great strides,” Brown told Fox Footy.
“Forget about last week, it was absolutely pouring rain so it didn’t really suit them, but the previous week against Sydney, they probably should have beaten them up there, a huge win against St Kilda, their last month of football has been very solid.
“When I look at Essendon and the way they’ve played this year, I’m starting to see a brand of football. That’s something we didn’t see last year and I think the Essendon supporters were crying out for it.
“Now, with Ben Rutten in full control and Blake Caracella there to help him, we can see their brand of football.
“They’re starting to move the ball well and they move it quick and they look dangerous when they go into the forward line.”
While Essendon’s young guns stood up, it was Collingwood’s old firm of Scott Pendlebury (30 disposals) and Steele Sidebottom (30 disposals, 12 tackles) that were left to carry the weight for the Magpies.
The defeat drops the Magpies to an unenviable 1-5 record so far this season, with a must-win clash against the Gold Coast Suns at the MCG on the horizon in Round Seven.
Essendon will go from one arch-rival to another when it takes on Carlton at the MCG next Sunday, with both sides holding 2-4 records to start the year.