Collingwood hang on to beat wasteful Melbourne and book preliminary final | AFL

Collingwood hang on to beat wasteful Melbourne and book preliminary final | AFL

The Collingwood gamers ran out for his or her qualifying final the best way they at all times do – gambolling about and whooping it up. However the frolics didn’t final lengthy. It was a brutal opening. It noticed spotfires, hyperextended knees, errant elbows, concussion assessments and a bloodcurdling collision between Brayden Maynard and Angus Brayshaw. “It’s a footy act,” Maynard later mentioned. “He jumped off the bottom and knocked a man out,” Melbourne coach, Simon Goodwin, countered. “It didn’t appear like it had a lot malice,” his reverse quantity, Craig McRae, provided. Like all issues tribunals and finals, we throw our arms within the air, hope the participant’s mind hasn’t been broken, and let the po-faced panellists and the king’s counsels thrash it out.

The Demons, one of the best contested workforce all yr, had been surprisingly passive within the opening time period. It was Collingwood that was the harder facet in entrance of 92,636 followers on the MCG. Tellingly, it was Collingwood that was the faster facet, and the cleaner facet. Nearly as good because the Pies had been, Melbourne will rue this loss for a very long time. They frittered it away. The final time they met, the Dees kicked 8:18 and obtained away with it. They weren’t so fortunate this time. That they had so many appears to be like. That they had 32 extra inside 50s. They shot themselves within the foot time and time once more – dinky little 9 iron lobs, shanks out on the total, forwards barrelling into each other. If the supply was sloppy and unimaginative at occasions, the ahead line ought to shoulder the majority of the blame. It was dysfunctional.

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They now head into a repechage with all sorts of question marks over their best forward combination. Jacob Van Rooyen will almost certainly sit out next week after he chinned Dan McStay. That leaves the very real prospect of them recalling Brodie Grundy, who’s been playing in mini typhoons out at Casey Fields in front of two men and a dog. He’s been adrift in the system for months, a kind of footballing un-person, but he may well get his chance next Friday.

Collingwood saved a lot of money by trading Grundy, and their acquisitions all paid their way last night. McStay’s two third-quarter goals, after nothing had gone right for him all night, were crucial, while Tom Mitchell and Oleg Markov excelled in the slippery conditions. But it was Bobby Hill who really sparked the Pies. A few years ago, in a documentary about the trade period, he was informed by his manager that his desired trade had fallen through, and that he’d be a GWS player for another year. He was in the tattooist’s chair when he took the call. He wanted to play in front of 90 thousand people at the MCG, not in front of four-digit crowds at Giants Stadium. He finally got his chance this year, and produced the best game of his career last night. While the heavyweights slugged and knocked one another, the flyweight ran amok. He was everywhere early – mopping up in defence, mowing down loping Dees defenders, and slipping out the back to goal. He covered an extraordinary amount of ground. Along with Markov, he’s given the Pies what they were lacking last year – leg speed.

Collingwood had a torrid August, the August they had to have in many ways. They were biding time, treading water, being figured out. Deep down, they were entitled to think– “what’s to gain by going the extra yard here?” This side needs to be all chips in. This side needs to feel the blade on skin. They got that in the first term, when bodies were flying everywhere. They got it in the final minutes, when Melbourne were pressing hard, when Gawn was marking everything, and when Petracca threatened to rip the game away from the Pies. They’ve spent the past two years mowing sides down. But last night they hung on grimly. They managed their moments, to steal the coach’s line. As Quaynor put his head in the hole and Darcy Moore and Nathan Murphy shovelled against the avalanche, Melbourne continued to find new ways to throw it away. But the Pies kept their heads. They had shopped early, and bought themselves a home preliminary final.

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