In front of a thunderous 95,000 crowd at the MCG, Collingwood stormed into the Grand FInal after a merciless victory over an ageing Geelong.
The final margin was 41 points but the Pies amassed a lead of nearly 80 points half through the third quarter. The first quarter by Collingwood was simply the best quarter of football played this season. The unrelenting pressure and tackling was taken to a whole new level against a Geelong team which looked second rate and seemingly without a plan B. Watching Geelong attempting to handball their way out of Collingwood’s ‘full court press’ was a sign of a great team coming to an end. Normally so clean and quick with their ball movement, Geelong turned the ball over and failed to adjust by slowing the game down. The cat’s game plan of playing on at any cost was exposed by a hungry and desperate Collingwood side.
Collingwood had stars all over the ground. Scott Pendlebury managed to find space and time and was just so damaging by foot and hand. Dane Swan continued his fine form by collecting over 30 touches and with his partner in crime, Alan Didak turning opponents inside out and playing the game on his terms, the Pies were just to slick and sadly for a mighty Geelong team, too good. Yet, the most valuable player on the ground when the game was there to be won was Captain Nick Maxwell. His ability to run off his man, read the play and provide support for his fellow defenders was inspirational. By quarter time, Mark Thompson moved Cameron Ling on to him, but by then it was too late, the damaged had been done.
While there were winners all over the ground for Collingwood, there were just too many passengers for Geelong. Tom Hawkins, Darren Milburn, Cameron Ling, Cameron Mooney, James Podsiadly and Brad Ottens were exposed at various stages last night. Hawkins looked lost in the ruck, actually the only time he looked likely was when he was sitting on the bench. Milburn has been a wonderful servant for the club but it seems the game has sadly passed him, he can only run in straight lines as his agility and youth is lost. The key forwards were woeful, Podsiadly’s inexperience on the big stage looked obvious while Cam Mooney failed too impose his physical presence on the game and as a senior player his performance was pathetic. Finally, Ottens lumbered over the ground and he too may need to consider his future.
Is Gazza off to the Gold Coast? Likely. After the game, Mark Thompson didn’t seem to hold much confidence in his little champ staying. While Ablett was guilty of over hand-balling (he wasn’t alone), he was Geelong’s best.
Colingwood’s march to glory continues. One more week. One more game. One more win. To win that Premiership Cup and break a 20 year premiership drought.