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The Collingwood Magpies have crushed former flag favourites the Richmond Tigers by 39 points at the MCG in the first preliminary final on a clear Friday night.
Richmond opened their preliminary final with three behinds, before Collingwood responded with two goals and took an early lead.
The Magpies kicked the final three goals of the first term to be in front by 21 points at the first break, and sound the first alarm bells for the Tigers.
Mason Cox opened the second quarter with three big contested marks and three straight goals, as U-S-A was cheered around the MCG.
Collingwood squeezed Richmond – they didn’t give the Tigers any space or time, kept the ball in their forward half and put pressure on the scoreboard.
At half time the deficit was 44 points and the Richmond Tigers needed to reset.
Richmond scored first in the second half, but their hope was short-lived as Jordan De Goey kicked his fourth.
Goals to Bachar Houli and Jack Riewoldt at the end of the third term lifted the Tigers and their fans at the final break.
When Richmond kicked the opening two goals in the final quarter, the game was back on. Richmond fans were vocal once again and everyone was thinking maybe, just maybe…
Collingwood finished with a bang, goals to Adam Treloar, Brodie Grundy and Jaidyn Stephenson put the game to rest, it was decided: The Magpies would play in the grand final.
Steele Sidebottom was prolific in the midfield with 41 disposals, while Taylor Adams (36 disposals, 8 clearances) and Jack Crisp (30 disposals, 2 goals) were great as well.
Jordan De Goey kicked four goals, Mason Cox three and Brody Mihocek and Jack Crisp also contributed two goals each.
Brodie Grundy dominated the ruck for the Magpies, he had 56 hitouts, kicked a goal and his presence was felt around the ground all night.
Dustin Martin clearly wasn’t fit, David Astbury struggled as well, but Jack Riewoldt (five goals) and Trent Cotchin (25 disposals, 10 clearances, seven tackles) led alone from the front.
The biggest concern for Collingwood is a high ankle sprain to Jeremy Howe, after a run-down tackle by Daniel Rioli.
He spent the final quarter on the bench, but with the game all but over there was little point risking him.
That’s season 2018 over for the Tigers, a brilliant year comes to an end with the loss and it’s a very different feeling to last year’s elation.
Collingwood now look ahead, with their opponent to be decided in Perth tomorrow: will it be an all-Victorian grand final, or will West Coast prove the bye not to be an issue?