It took until the dying minutes of the game for the West Coast Eagles to overcome a spirited Collingwood Magpies in the 2nd Qualifying Final. It was the second trip to Perth for the Pies in as many weeks, and they proved that they are not overawed at the prospect of playing in front of nearly 60,000 hostile fans in the cauldron of Optus Stadium. There were a dozen lead changes over the course of the game and it could have gone either way as time ticked down. Both sides were spent, but it was Lewis Jetta who danced on a dime to put the Eagles in front when it mattered – five minutes out from the final siren.
Like two heavyweight boxers, both sides were tentative through most of the first quarter, however the Eagles were making the most of the tussle early. They had the first three goals of the match and it looked for a while that they were going to run away with it. Liam Ryan kicked two of those goals and looked switched on in his first finals appearance. Steele Sidebottom was running amok for the Magpies and was influential in providing clearances with his dash away from packs. He was working well with his dominant ruckman, Brodie Grundy, in stoppages and at the center circle bounces. The Eagles were dealt a huge blow late in the first quarter when Brad Sheppard pulled a hamstring and left the ground for the rest of the match.
During the second quarter, Collingwood put the foot to the metal and kicked six of the nine goals scored. Brody Mihocek kicked their first, followed quickly by a goal each to Chris Mayne and Taylor Adams. Collingwood’s supremacy was mainly due to their engine room (midfield) firing on all cylinders in the middle of the ground. They were very efficient in repelling attacks by the Eagles, and moving the ball back into their own forward line like a slingshot. Dom Sheed was making up for his time out of the Eagles’ side due to poor form and slotted a much needed goal to put the brakes on the rampant Pies’ scoring.
Josh Kennedy, in his first game back in many weeks, was not feeling the tempo of the match. He missed three make-able chances early in the second half. Kennedy was being blanketed by Tyson Goldsack who was also returning after a long stint on the sidelines due to injury. The match had developed into a battle of wills and strength with tackles and contested possessions being virtually even. The Pies had the better outcome though, with Adams and Will Hoskin-Elliott kicking their second goals. They took a ten point lead into the final change. The Eagles had kicked one goal, four behinds for that quarter and looked to have blown their chance with their poor kicking.
Kennedy and his forward partner, Jack Darling, started to hit their straps and kicked a goal each to give the Eagles back the lead in the final term. The home crowd’s noise was deafening and West Coast seemed to lift with the crescendo. Jordan de Goey was on the end of repeated surges forward and kicked his first goal at a crucial time to give Collingwood back the lead at the 17-minute mark. Both teams were running on fumes and were throwing everything they had into winning the match. With five minutes left and the Pies up by two points, Jetta gathered the ball just inside the 50-meter arc, sidestepped and snapped the goal that was the catalyst for a hometown victory. When Darling followed up quickly afterwards it gave the Eagles a ten-point lead and broke Collingwood’s spirit. Jack Redden put the icing on the cake and his game when he goaled after the siren to take West Coast to a sixteen point win in a thriller.
With the win, West Coast now have a week off and will wait to see who travels to Optus Stadium to play them in the 2nd Preliminary Final, based on the results of the semifinals next week. Hawthorn will faceoff with Melbourne with a trip to Perth for the winner. From there, West Coast's chance at a return to the championship match will be determined. On the other side, Collingwood return to the MCG to face a revived Greater Western Sydney in an elimination match that will see the winner take on Richmond for a place in the Grand Final.
West Coast: 3.3 6.7 7.11 12.14 (86) Collingwood: 1.3 7.4 9.9 10.10 (70) West Coast: Yeo, Redden, Sheed, Jetta Collingwood: Sidebottom, Grundy, Taylor, Goldsack
Article last changed on Sunday, September 09, 2018 - 2:56 PM EDT