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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Perth

Even if you remember these events from 2003 - the space shuttle Columbia disintegrating on its return to Earth, Andre Agassi winning the Australian Open in tennis and Netscape being taken down for Mozilla - you will be forgiven if you don’t remember that 2003 was the last time that the West Coast Eagles defeated the Collingwood Magpies in Melbourne.
Gaff Held Up
2003 was a very long time ago in football terms and the Magpies may have expected the trend to continue as second placed Eagles traveled to Etihad Stadium in Round 16. All things must pass and so it was with the hoodoo when - despite horrific shooting on goals - the Eagles ran over top of the cooling Pies.

Both teams have tight defenses and on the smaller Etihad ground the defensive pressure made scoring opportunities difficult. Although there were only three goals scored in total during the first quarter the Eagles had the bulk of the attacking. Their poor kicking conversion at goal would haunt them throughout the game and keep the Magpies in the hunt until late in the match. The other thing that helped Collingwood - at least in the view of Eagles' fans - was the umpires who were seemingly quick on the whistle to the Pies’ advantage. Free kicks finished up at an unusually high ratio of 3-1 in the Pies' favor and at one point the massive home crowd seemed to be directing the umpiring from the top tiers with their screams of “Ball!”

Disaster struck for Collingwood’s Travis Cloke early in the match when he was substituted with a hamstring injury and Jarrod Blair had to take the field earlier than expected. He turned out to be a handy addition and soon made his presence felt with his dogged attack on the ball and a goal minutes after his appearance.

Collingwood upped the tackling ante as the game tightened up in the second quarter. They were fierce at the man and the ball. Goals to Jarrod Witts via a free kick and Alex Fasolo had the Magpies with the lead with their tails in the air. Josh Hill kicked a steadier for the Eagles with a freakish soccer kick out of nowhere, and although the Eagles had twice as many inside 50’s as the Magpies, they led by only four points at the half time break.

In the second half the game turned into a shootout with both teams trading goals kick for kick. West Coast had left the door ajar with poor conversion continuing to dog them, but they gradually wore Collingwood down. Fasolo popped up for another goal when Scott Selwood turned the ball over at a critical time. The Magpies were much more efficient with their shots on goal and kept themselves in the game trailing by seven points as the final term began. That was their final shot though and the Eagles ran over the top of them with their trademark strong finish. Goals to Nic Naitanui, Mark LeCras and Chris Masten sealed the game with Collingwood failing to kick a major in the final term. The down side for the Eagles was the loss of key defender Jeremy McGovern to a hamstring injury that could keep him sidelined for a month.

Collingwood are on the ropes after four straight losses and have fallen out of the Top Eight as a result of this loss. In Round 17 they face a determined Western Bulldogs outfit who have only lost once in their past five games. West Coast is a game clear in second position and a game behind Fremantle on top of the Ladder. They play Sydney next at their home ground Domain Stadium, an encounter which promises to be a cracker as these two teams have a long history of down-to-the-wire finishes.


Scoreboard
West Coast:  2.6 4.10 7.16 11.21 (87)
Collingwood: 1.4 4.6  7.9   7.14 (56)

Best Players 
West Coast:  Gaff, Masten, LeCras, Kennedy, Cripps
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Varcoe, Wiliams, Sidebottom, Oxley
 

Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 4:27 PM EDT


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