'Leave the game alone': Fans react after AFL thriller

The AFL’s proposed rule changes for the 2019 season have been slammed by fans after a thrilling match between Hawthorn and Essendon.

In a high-scoring affair, the Hawks recorded a 107-103 point win over the Bombers in a nailbiting fixture for viewers and fans.

Following some overly defensive and low-scoring fixtures during the 2018 season, the AFL floated the idea of rule changes to the game – but the Hawks v Dons clash quickly sent fans into overdrive.

The 16.11 (107) to 16.7 (103) win keeps the Hawks in touch with the top four and means the Bombers will need a miracle to make the top eight.

Essendon started round 20 a game plus percentage outside the eight and their last three opponents are Richmond, St Kilda and Port Adelaide away.

Hawthorn have won nine of their past 11 against Essendon.

When Jack Gunston kicked his fifth goal midway through the last quarter, the Hawks looked home.

But Essendon rallied with the next three goals to trail by four points with less than two minutes left.

James Worpel then put Hawthorn 10 points up.

A long bomb from Travis Colyer with 13 seconds left kept the game alive, before Hawthorn were able to close out the win.

The thrilling Hawthorn-Essendon fixture had AFL fans calling for the governing body to “leave the game alone”. Pic: Getty

Hawthorn’s Brownlow Medal favourite Tom Mitchell surely scored more votes with his 43-possession game and Ben Stratton again starred in defence.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was high among Essendon’s best and Zach Merrett had 42 disposals.

Leading by eight points early in the last quarter, the Hawks took full toll of a basic error from Brendon Goddard.

The Bombers veteran stopped over the line as he was kicking out from a behind.

That meant a ball up at the top of the Hawthorn goalsquare and Gunston soccered through his fourth at the stoppage.

Essendon opened the scoring in each of the first three quarters and led by 20 points early in the second.

But the Hawks were able to keep them in check, taking the lead for the first time midway through the second.

Hawthorn led by 11 points at the main break and a goal at three-quarter time.

Mitchell was on pace to break his own AFL record for the most disposals in a game when he racked up 29 in the first half.

The Hawks star set the mark of 54 in round one.

But David Myers went to Mitchell in the second half and had an immediate impact, restricting him to six in the third quarter.

Essendon star Jake Stringer limped off in the third term with an ankle injury, but returned and played out the game.

Essendon made two late changes, losing Matt Dea to a concussion he suffered last week and Matt Guelfi because of illness.

with AAP.