The Collingwood Magpies have defeated the Geelong Cats by 10 points at the MCG on Friday night, booking themselves a preliminary final spot in the process.
For Geelong, it’s back to the drawing board with plenty to improve when they take on the Eagles in a likely Friday night blockbuster.
Other than the last five minutes, the match was not really all that exciting.
It was a low-scoring affair, as expected, but lost its zing early with Collingwood dominating the contest.
There were patches where Geelong worked themselves into it, but they were short-lived and made no real impression where it matters: on the scoreboard.
In the first half Jeremy Howe was intercepting everything in defence, while in the second half it was Darcy Moore, backing himself to take the mark and take the game on.
Patrick Dangerfield battled all night with 32 disposals, a goal and seven clearances. Tim Kelly also picked up 28 disposals and a goal, while Brandon Parfitt had 22 disposals, kicked a goal and laid nine tackles.
Gary Ablett and Tom Hawkins failed to put majors on the board; All Australian Tom Stewart was strong in his intercepting across the backline.
The Magpies had many contributors tonight; early Jamie Elliott and Jaidyn Stephenson were firing, while the experienced players stood up in the slower patches to turn the game back on their terms.
Steele Sidebottom returned with impressive numbers, 33 disposals, a goal and five tackles.
John Noble and Rupert Wills held their positions at selection and did not look out of place at all in the step up to finals intensity.
Scott Pendlebury finished with 24 disposals, a goal, nine tackles and three clearances in his 300th AFL game.
Again, Geelong made a late change. This time it was Rhys Stanley omitted for Sam Menegola, meaning Mark Blicavs and Esava Ratugolea were left to manage the ruck contest.
“We mucked up the weather forecast”, said Chris Scott, but the rain didn’t come.
The lack of confidence in Rhys Stanley was a poor decision in the end, Brodie Grundy dominated the ruck with 47 hit-outs.
Plenty of injury concerns out of the match, Mitch Duncan’s match was done at half-time with a left knee injury and Gary Rohan was on and off with leg complaints throughout the night.
There was confusion at the start of the game with Jed Bews pulling up sore from the final warm up, but he got on the field for the first bounce. Luke Dahlhaus also got a corky early, but played out the game.
For the Pies, Jordan De Goey came off in the second term with hamstring tightness and didn’t play any further part in the game.
Levi Greenwood’s day was also done in the first half, his knee the concern.
Next up the Geelong Cats face the West Coast Eagles in the second week of finals. The reigning premiers were destructive in Perth on Thursday night and will pose a huge challenge for the up-and-down Cats.
Collingwood will have the week off, while their preliminary final opponent is decided.