A glorious autumn day was on offer at the MCG for the traditional ANZAC day clash between Collingwood and Essendon football clubs. Pre-match saw former servicemen in a motorcade around the ground and both teams entered the field to run through a joint banner with “Always remembered” across the top in reference to those servicemen and women that served and fell in wars. The commemoration service was completed in the middle of the ground and the Australian and New Zealand anthems played then teams moved to their final warmups.
This will be the first time Collingwood and West Coast will meet in a Grand Final. However, both do have recent Grand Final histories, albeit losses the last time either side played in a Grand Final. The Eagles lost to Hawthorn in 2015 and the Magpies lost to Geelong in 2011 after winning the replay the year before. Speaking of drawn matches, Collingwood and West Coast played against each other in a drawn Qualifying Final in 1990 with Collingwood victorious in the replay.
A packed house at the MCG for the two clubs with (probably) the biggest following in Melbourne made the most noise heard all year at the MCG. It began in the lead up to the sides running onto the arena for the first Preliminary Final. Richmond were undeniable favorites going into the game, but there has been something special building at Collingwood this season under a more relaxed coach Nathan Buckley, Perhaps taking his lead from the 2017 Damien Hardwick success story.
West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies (Optus Stadium)
STATE OF PLAY:
The Saturday clash between West Coast and Collingwood is a top four battle of two teams that have been hit hard by injury during the season but have come through in pretty good shape nonetheless.
With De Goey and Treloar out of the Collingwood team over the past few weeks, few gave Collingwood a chance of defeating ladder leader and reigning premiers, Richmond. They pushed the Tigers for three quarters before the toll of losing two defenders in Howe (to concussion) and Scharenberg (to a knee injury) saw Richmond run away to a 28-point win.
As July days go this was a warm one in Melbourne. It was an overcast day and perfect conditions for footy and 88,180 fans in black and white or black and gold packed the MCG. There was an earlier than traditional Saturday afternoon kickoff time but most fans were in well ahead of first bounce.
The West Coast Eagles have confirmed that Nic Naitanui has a torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his right knee. His left knee was reconstructed in late 2016 and kept Naitanui out of the competition for all of 2017. American specialist Bill Knowles, who assisted Naitanui with his recovery in Philadelphia last July, has suggested that this second reconstruction could require a longer recovery period. It is expected that Naitanui will undergo reconstruction surgery as soon as the initial swelling subsides. He will miss the rest of this year and most of the 2019 season. The twenty-eight year old has played 160 games for West Coast; he will be nearly 30 when he returns to the game.
Round fourteen saw the last of four “bye” weeks played out, with top teams Sydney and Richmond having the week off along with Geelong, Adelaide, Fremantle, Adelaide and Saint Kilda. The big winner of round fourteen was Port Adelaide, who beat fellow top four aspirants Melbourne in a tough game of tightly contested football at the Adelaide Oval. The biggest loser of the round
Round thirteen will kick off with Thursday night footy at Adelaide Oval, with Port Adelaide – fresh off a victory over the reigning premiers – taking on the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. This makes for a short turnaround from a cracking Queen’s Birthday Monday clash that saw a red hot Collingwood take down the highly fancied Melbourne Demons in front of a massive MCG crowd.
Mason Cox may still have his Texan drawl but his first words when your AFANA correspondent spoke to him was the typical Australian greeting, "G'day mate". Having played nearly 100 minutes of brutal football against the West Coast Eagles, he then offered a typical Australian understatement by saying he was, "feeling a bit sore".