Final Score: Geelong 119 – Collingwood 81
The Cats won 18.11 (119) to 12.9 (81) to hand coach Chris Scott a flag in his first year in charge and deny Magpies mentor Mick Malthouse a fairytale finish to the 28th and last year of his decorated coaching career.
Last year, when they were emphatically dumped by the Magpies in a preliminary final, it had seemed extremely unlikely the ageing 2007 and 2009 premiers could return to the top, particularly when star play Gary Ablett and coach Mark Thompson then left the club.
But it was the younger Collingwood outfit, which had looked on track to create their own dynasty when they won last year’s flag, that were made to look tired and flat-footed late in Saturday’s game as Geelong surged to glory.
Star forward Steve Johnson answered queries over his recovery from a knee injury in stunning style with four goals, while oft-maligned young key forward Tom Hawkins answered his critics with three majors in a decisive third term and a brilliant start to the last.
Midfielder Jimmy Bartel combined a typically courageous and hard-working game with three crucial majors, while Joel Selwood was a fearless midfield ball-winner and defender Tom Lonergan shut down Collingwood’s Travis Cloke, who had kept the Magpies in touch with three goals early in the game.
While Geelong’s decision to select Johnson paid off, Collingwood were made to pay for gambling on players under injury clouds, particularly tall backman Ben Reid, whose struggle to run made him a liability in defence in the second half, allowing Hawkins to dominate.
The Norm Smith Medallist winner was Jimmy Bartel, with the Norm Smith voting:
Jimmy Bartel 13 (3 3 3 3 1)
Joel Selwood 9 (2 2 2 2 1)
Tom Hawkins 5 (3 2)
Scott Pendlebury 2 (1 1)
Cameron Ling 1 (1)
– with AAP