OVER to you, Fremantle.
Melbourne has survived a late scare to enter the AFL season clubhouse in eighth position on Saturday and must now rely on the Dockers knocking over the Western Bulldogs in order to secure their finals berth.
After leading by 27 points at the final break against Essendon, the Demons allowed the Bombers to get within seven points in the dying stages.
On the back of Joe Daniher's move to the ruck and two last-quarter goals from James Stewart, the Bombers threatened to steal victory in John Worsfold's final game in charge.
Demon Christian Petracca then avoided a crucial holding the ball decision, before the Demons kicked two quick goals through Bayley Fritsch to clinch the 10.8 (68) to 7.7 (49) win at Metricon Stadium.
Despite trailing at the first break off the back of an inaccurate opening, the Demons had the game all but buried at half-time after an unanswered five-goal second quarter.
Melbourne generated four of its first six goals from the defensive half, prompting Bombers coach-in-waiting Ben Rutten to question his side's workrate at the main break.
With Max Gawn delivering silver service to Petracca, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver, the Demons won the centre clearances 6-1 in the first half before both sides kicked 1.1 in a dour third term.
The Bombers threw the magnets around in the final term, and with Dylan Shiel and Zach Merrett's presence through the midfield, recorded 16 more contested possessions.
Worsfold, along with retiring Bombers ruckman Tom Bellchambers who didn't play, was given a guard of honour from both sides as the teams left the field.
Woosha back to his old tricks one last time
It wouldn't have been John Worsfold's farewell as senior coach if he didn't switch his key position players from one end to the other. Just as he did with Adam Hunter as West Coast, and has done with Cale Hooker in recent seasons, Worsfold used Michael Hurley and James Stewart at both ends against the Demons. Hurley started in attack, only to swap with Stewart into defence in the second term to stop Melbourne's momentum. Stewart stayed forward and finished with three goals in a performance that almost pulled the Bombers over the line.
Melbourne forward Mitch Brown was delisted from Essendon at the end of last season after 16 games in 2019. Facing his former side for the first time, the 30-year-old collected an equal game-high 13 marks from 20 disposals, including six score involvements as he searches for a contract extension for 2021. As the Bombers toyed with the make-up of their attacking set-up for much of the afternoon, Brown's form delivered a reminder as to what they missed in 2020.
Have these three played their last games as Bombers?
Joe Daniher's last effort as a Bomber may have come in the ruck. After offering little in attack to start the match, the undecided free agent was thrown into the centre square for the final term. He had four inside 50s from seven disposals and led the Bombers' daring fightback. However, as they got within seven points, Daniher was replaced by Sam Draper in the middle before the Demons flew home. Adam Saad remains without a deal for 2021 as he weighs up rival interest and was solid across half-back with 19 disposals. Big man Shaun McKernan, who missed selection and was without a contract for next year, was spotted farewelling teammates in the rooms post-match.
ESSENDON 2.0 2.2 3.3 7.7 (49)
MELBOURNE 1.4 6.6 7.7 10.8 (68)
Essendon: Stewart 3, Laverde, Stringer, Smith, Shiel
Melbourne: Hunt 4, Fritsch 3, Neal-Bullen 2, Petracca
Essendon: Parish, Merrett, Shiel, Langford, Stewart, Saad
Melbourne: Petracca, Gawn, Oliver, Viney, Fritsch, May