Pies pip Swans by 8 points in AFL thriller
Collingwood made an emphatic statement about their AFL premiership credentials on Saturday night, downing ladder-leaders Sydney by eight points in a thrilling match worthy of September billing.
The Magpies were routinely challenged in a scrappy clash played under finals-like pressure, but held sway in a dramatic final quarter to win 12.6 (78) to 9.16 (70) at ANZ Stadium.
Sydney held a 17-point lead, the largest margin of the game, halfway through the third term and then had countless chances to regain the advantage in the final quarter.
Lewis Jetta, Ben McGlynn, Tony Armstrong, Josh Kennedy and Adam Goodes all missed shots in the fourth term, with Goodes having a forgettable night on the whole.
The Magpies’ win, achieved largely without star wingman Dale Thomas who was substituted early in the second quarter with a leg injury, extended Collingwood’s winning streak against Sydney to 11 matches.
It also laid the platform for a thrilling end to the season, with the Magpies, Swans and Adelaide all on 60 points and tussling for top spot on the ladder.
Fittingly it was best-on-ground Dayne Beams who kicked the sealer in the dying stages.
As predicted by Swans coach John Longmire on Friday, Beams took up the slack left by star midfielder Dane Swan, who copped a club-imposed two-game ban for drinking.
While Beams’ influence was quelled somewhat by Kieren Jack, who was shifted onto him after halftime, he still finished the game with impressive numbers – 34 disposals, 11 clearances and three goals.
In a match where both sides struggled to create goals or much free space, Swans on-baller Kennedy worked the stoppages in Brett Kirk-like fashion.
Kennedy had a game-high 40 possessions, eight tackles and nine clearances.
Thomas’s injury was worked on for the duration of quarter-time, he returned to the field in the second term but was still restricted.
It meant coach Nathan Buckley had to turn to veteran goal-sneak Alan Didak earlier than expected.
Didak, who returned for his first AFL game since sustaining a groin injury while playing against Melbourne on June 11, showed his spark was still there with the last goal of the first half.
Swans utility Lewis Roberts-Thomson was involved in a heated wrestle with former teammate Darren Jolly in the second term, while Collingwood spearhead Chris Dawes could face sanction after hurling his mouth guard in anger at Swans defender Alex Johnson.
The Swans were inaccurate in front of goal and guilty of turning the ball over far too often in a low-scoring game played in front of a crowd of 45,827 – Sydney’s biggest since 2008.
The match was marred by windy conditions, best typified by the fact Sydney’s banner collapsed before 100-gamer McGlynn could run through.© AAP 2013
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