When these two sides last met in Round 1, Collingwood were unable to hold on against a rampaging Geelong led by Tim Kelly despite briefly regaining the lead in the last quarter.
This weekend, although held scoreless in the last quarter in a low-scoring game – they scored the same total as Essendon did the night before in their 55-point thumping to West Coast – they weathered the storm much better and held on in skipper Scott Pendlebury’s 300th game.
Pendlebury became the 90th player – but only the third Collingwood player – to reach this total, which was considered a huge achievement last century. However, unlike many other players who limped to the total, playing their last game and spending long periods on the bench, he led from the front and was among the best on field.
His goal – a typical no-nonsense major – was his 178th for the club and took him to level with former skipper Mark Williams in the top third goal kickers of all time. No doubt he will move higher than his current equal 80th position on the AFL’s all-time top 100 game players.
With valuable support from Collingwood’s only other elite game player on the night, Steele Sidebottom, the Magpies got an early break on the Cats and held on from there. Sidebottom, whose game took him to equal with Simon Prestigiacomo in 18th place on Collingwood’s all-time top 100 game players list, also kicked a goal, which would have made him equal with Jamie Elliott on 161 goals except that Elliott, in his first final since 2013, kicked two goals in a great game that took him past Craig Starcevich and into 38th position on Collingwood’s all-time goal kicking list.
Jeremy Howe also kicked an emphatic goal, his first since Round 7, 2018, and starred in the backline. The high-flying Howe, recruited from Melbourne in 2016 where he’d won the goal-kicking tally in 2013, has proved to be a wonderful intercept half back for the Magpies over the past four seasons.
Only one of Geelong’s elite goal kickers, Patrick Dangerfield, was among the seven individual goalscorers for the club, but it didn’t alter his position at No. 63 on the Cats’ all-time top-100 goal kickers.
However, four other elite game players reach personal club milestones: Joel Selwood passed Darren Milburn to become the club’s fifth-greatest game player and also move up the AFL’s top 100 to be equal 95th with ex-teammate Steve Johnson, who finished his career with two years at Greater Western Sydney, and former Fitzroy and Sydney full back Rod ‘Tilt’ Carter; Harry Taylor equalled the late Paul Crouch; Gary Ablett passed dual premiership and three-time best and fairest player George Todd; and the now-injured Mitch Duncan equalled David Wojcinski.