The game ended as it started. Scores level. Still waiting for a result. Yesterday’s epic Grand Final between two desperate and willing sides came to an anti-climatic end. For now.
At the same time and same venue, part two will commence and this time a result is guaranteed.
The drawn result mirrors St. Kilda’s year of controversy and drama. The Saints have proven their ability all year to combat controversies on and off the field. They now have one final hurdle to climb over.
As expected the Pies’ jumped too a wonderful start. They were full of run and carry and were able to play the first half largely on their terms. Yet, the Saints were able to hang in the game at the half, courteous of Travis Cloke’s woeful kicking at goal. His late two blunders at goal provided the Saints with a sniff.
In the first half, Daisy Thomas typified Collingwood’s dominance with his ability to break the lines and deliver effectively in the forward line. What was more impressive was his work rate off the ball. His ferocious harassment on the opposition player with the ball was a highlight in his wonderful performance. Furthermore, the General Nick Maxwell patrolled the back-line and made the swooping half-back role his for the day. He cut off many attacks from St. Kilda and limited Saint Nick’s influence in the attacking 50.
Lenny Hayes’ superior work-rate in the packs and Sam Fisher’s telling marks in defence, kept the Saints alive as they went into the main break.
As the old saying goes, “the third quarter is the premiership quarter”. This was certainly the case at the G’. Coach Ross Lyon swung Sam Gilbert to the forward line. This moved proved vital. Gilbert converted a goal, pressured and presented well. Brendan Goddard went to a whole new level and managed to swing the momentum St. Kilda’s way. Goddard’s penetrating kick, run and the ability to win the crucial contest suddenly saw Collingwood on the back foot. Hayes also lifted to another level. His Norm Smith performance only highlights the absurdity of his non-selection in the All-Australlian team. Yesterday, Hayes possessed the rare herculean quality of willing himself on the contest like no other. Hayes’ in and under work was inspiring. At three quarter time, the Pies were holding on by a goal.
The last quarter was just as enthralling. At every contest, players were throwing themselves at the ball trying to win an advantage for their team. Neither team were willing to concede ground. Daisy Thomas continued to work at an astonishing level and Nick Maxwell with his chest puffed out continued to lead with vigour and determination. Neon Leon was once again no where to be seen throughout the day but manage to bob up and snare one. Nathan Brown for Collingwood performed an honourable job on Skipper Nick Riewoldt. Dane Swan was restricted in the second half in a gritty duel with Clinton Jones and later, Farren Ray. The under-rated “tagger”, Clint Jones, rushed Swan’s disposal but struggled to keep pace with his gut-running. While, Swan played his part for the Pies, particularly in the first half, Ray managed to take the honours in the second half.
Goddard once again loomed dangerous and nearly won the game for the Saints. Goddard’s “hanger” in the forward line typified the effect he was having on the game. It seemed that Hayes and Goddard just carried their team-mates on their backs and said follow us.
Sadly, every supporter and casual observer at the game or watching elsewhere were left stunned at the final siren. Except for the AFL who surely will cash in with two Grand Finals in two weeks.
Both teams fought bravely for two hours for an unjustified drawn result.
Collingwood and St. Kilda will now have to start all over, and come back next Saturday afternoon for another physical and emotional marathon.
Cancel your holidays and Saturday afternoon sport. Another emotional roller coaster is coming our way.