The Collingwood Magpies had to battle until the dying minutes of the match to pull off a narrow win over a spirited Fremantle Dockers side and lock up a top four position at the end of the home and away rounds. Fremantle took the game right up to the Pies, who traveled west in one of their rare forays across the country. It was Michael Johnson’s last appearance in a distinguished 244 game career, and his teammates dug in for him to nearly cause a "boil-over".
It all started with a rush for Collingwood when they kicked the first three goals of the match and looked like giving the Dockers another soul-destroying belting on their home turf. Fremantle had no free flowing ball movement and were half a yard too slow against their quicker opponents. Fremantle steadied midway through the quarter and started to fight back, scoring five goals in a row to take the lead. It was a long time between drinks for the Dockers. They had 26 goals scored against them including the hiding the week before from Geelong, before they strung together their five unanswered goals.
Brody Grundy was giving Fremantle’s Sean Darcy a lesson in how to play the ruck role, delivering silver service to his on-ball players around the stoppages. Despite his dominance, the back half of the Dockers was standing up to the pressure. Joel Hambling was blanketing the Magpies’ Jordan De Goey very well, keeping him out of the goal scorers for the entire game. At the other end, Hayden Ballantyne had turned back the clock and was playing the best game for many a year, kicking four goals for the game and getting the crowd behind him every time he went near the ball. The game was all tied up as the final quarter started and the home crowd had the chant going early.
Fremantle will rue their poor kicking at goal in the latter part of the game. They had Collingwood on the ropes but could not kick straight on chances right in front of goals. Bradley Hill and Lachie Neale were doing their best at getting the ball to the forwards but their hard word was unrewarded when the forwards tried to convert the goals. On the other side of the register, Collingwood made the most of their chances and kicked three goals two behinds in the final term to the Dockers’ one goal five behinds. Had Fremantle kicked straighter when it mattered they would have pulled off the upset of the round.
It was all done and dusted for Collingwood when Brody Mihocek kicked two goals in the dying minutes to snuff out any hopes for the Dockers. Fremantle did gain some respect back with their performance on the day, but they really did let a golden chance slip by. Collingwood’s scalp was there for the taking but as they say, poor kicking is poor football, and they will have the entire off-season to think about it. Collingwood will now have to travel west again to face the West Coast Eagles in the finals. There will be a second chance for the loser, but the Eagles are guaranteed of two home games during the finals and that will help their chances in the grueling cut and thrust of the final series.
Fremantle: 5.2 6.6 8.8 9.13 (67) Collingwood: 3.2 6.3 8.8 11.10 (78) Fremantle: Hambling, B Hill, Neale, Ballantyne Collingwood: Grundy, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Stephenson
Article last changed on Wednesday, September 05, 2018 - 2:08 PM EDT