With 21 players on their list unavailable due to injury, Essendon’s injury list was the subject of discussion prior to their Round Five clash with Sydney in 1991. In the post match however, it would be a man making his first appearance in a year who would be the focus of all attention. Bradley Plain’s Eight goals the major talking point after the Bombers kicked 11 final quarter goals to overturn a 21-point 3/4 Time deficit to run out 31-point winners.
On his return from achilles tendon injuries, that had seen him sidelined since Round Six of the previous season, the 21-year-old Plain was unstoppable this night. He would see off a number of opponents on his way to a career best goal tally and set the SCG alight with a spectacular grab in the first quarter that set up Simon Madden for one of his five goals.
It had been a see-sawing encounter, with Sydney then Essendon leading at the first two breaks, but had appeared to be wrapped up when a nine goal third term gave the Swans a 21-points at the last change. Leon Higgins, Dennis Carroll, Mark Bayes, and Barry Mitchell all influential as the home team looked set to secure their second win of the season. In the end though, these efforts and 19-goals would not be enough to secure victory.
With Michael Long, Greg Anderson and Peter Cransberg all toiling away, and Plain and Madden firing up forward, the Bombers produced a remarkable final term turnaround. In an electrifying 15-minute burst to open the quarter, they kicked seven goal to turn the match on its head. While the Swans would mount one last challenge that saw them draw within striking distance in the shadows of time on, the visitors would not be denied. Four late goals putting the exclamation mark on a remarkable come from behind victory and maintained the Bombers unbeaten start to the 1991 season.
Essendon 4.6 10.9 13.15 24.17 (161)
Sydney 6.4 8.11 17.12 19.16 (130)
Best: Essendon — Plain, Madden, O’Brien,
McMullin, Cransberg, Long. Sydney — Bayes,
Higgins, Mitchell, Kelly, Lewis, Williams.
Goals: Essendon — Plain 8, Madden 4, McMullin
3, Wanganeen, Long 2, Harvey, O’Brien, Somerville,
Burns, Cranbsberg. Sydney — Bayes 4, Capper,
Higgins, Wright 2, Lewis, Carroll, Mitchell, Kelly,
Toohey, Love, Murphy, McKenzie, Nettelbeck.
Umpires: B. Carland, J. Van Beek.