Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Perth
Collingwood and West Coast have played each other in three Finals over recent years. Each game has been a closely fought affair, including one draw. This was Allan Didak’s 200th game and while most were expecting the Pies to win, the encounter didn’t go entirely to plan.
Nic Naitanui missed a golden opportunity to put West Coast on the board first when he dribbled a soccer kick into the goal post for a behind. The Eagles’ forward pressure was intense and surprised the Magpies with its effectiveness. Josh Kennedy took a mark in the square and converted for the first goal. Quinten Lynch followed and the first two majors were up for the Eagles. The tackling was ferocious in the Eagles’ camp and it looked like the Pies might struggle to score a goal. It was late in the quarter when Sharrod Wellingham took advantage of a turnover to register the only goal for the Pies. Although Collingwood was under immense pressure from the Eagles, they gave as good as they received in the later stages of the quarter. The Eagles went in at quarter time up by eight points.
Matt Priddis continued the Eagles’ dream run when he snapped on the left foot to take the margin out to 14 points but that’s where the fairy tale ended. The sleeping giant awoke and the Pies kicked the next five goals in a row to put West Coast on the back foot and in trouble. Harry O’Brien started the swing with a penetrating kick into the 50 meter arc where Scott Pendlebury marked and goaled. Leigh Brown kicked the next goal for the Pies when the ball was moved from one end to the other with precision and lightning speed. Dane Swan was masterful in his hard ball gets and disposals while O’Brien repelled every attack that came forward. Wellingham was a solid contributor and kicked his second goal, reading the ball off the pack, to put the Pies in front for the first time in the game. When some Andrew Krakouer magic put the next goal on the board for Collingwood, the only question was how much of an embarrassment the score line might become for the Eagles. They were being run ragged and appeared panicked with bloopers costing them dearly. Dean Cox came off the ground with an injury and Darren Jolly made the most of his absence by dominating in the ruck contests. Naitanui finally kicked a steadier from a 50 meter penalty to stem the bleeding. Mark LeCras kicked the goal of the day as he dribbled a curving kick along the ground deep in the pocket. Chris Dawes’ goal after the siren took the Magpies out to a 13 point lead as the half ended.
Jarryd Blair made the most of another West Coast error in the third quarter. He was on the end of a 12 point turnaround when Priddis played on from a gettable shot on goal to have the ball stripped from him and moved the length of the ground. Krakouer caused another turnover moments later to score. A damning statistic had Collingwood scoring seven goals from West Coast turnovers. This was the key to the game and in the end cost the Eagles the win. Cox was substituted out of the game for Patrick McGinnity and both teams scored a goal as the third quarter wound down. Collingwood went into the final change with a commanding 26 point lead.
There was a sense of impending disaster when the final quarter got underway. However the Eagles lifted and scored the first three goals. Lynch was in his best form for a couple of years and inspired his team mates with two goals. It could have been an upset but West Coast missed easy shots on goal that would have put them right back in the match. It is not often that the Magpies are challenged this far into a game and with minutes to go the Eagles were only two kicks behind. Unfortunately for West Coast, it was a case of what might have been. Their comeback fell apart as Collingwood steadied and finished off like the champion team they are by kicking the last two goals, one after the siren, to run out 20 point winners.
Turnovers and poor decision-making under pressure led to the Eagles' downfall. Collingwood thrive on errors and poor skill execution and always make their opponents pay. The Pies will have a week off while West Coast returns to Patersons Stadium to play a hungry Carlton in a Semi-final that sees the loser bow out for the season. Whatever happens next round, it has been a remarkable turnaround for 2010’s Wooden Spooners to finish in the top six teams of 2011. As for Collingwood, they press on towards an almost certain appearance in the Grand Final with Geelong the most likely challenger.
Scoreboard Collingwood: 1.1 7.5 10.7 12.10 (82) West Coast: 2.3 5.4 6.5 9.8 (62) Best Players Collingwood: Pendlebury, Swan, O’Brien, Shaw, Wellingham West Coast: Naitanui, Hurn, Glass, Lynch, Priddus
Article last changed on Friday, October 07, 2011 - 10:57 AM EDT