Magpies cruise into NAB grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies cruise into NAB grand final

By Sam Lienert 07/03/2009 12:16:36 AM Comments (0)

Collingwood youngster John Anthony starred with an impressive seven-goal haul as the Magpies cruised into the AFL pre-season grand final by thrashing Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

The Magpies won the NAB Cup semi-final 1.17.5 (116) to 3.6.10 (73), dominating from the outset to continue their strong pre-season form after big wins over West Coast and Richmond in the previous rounds.

Anthony was the clear standout, the 21-year-old key forward prospect building on the promise he showed in kicking 25 goals in the first 12 games of his career last season after his 2007 had been wiped out by a serious neck injury.

He set the tone with the opening goal of the game, after marking on the lead, one of six Collingwood kicked in the first term to sweep to a 25-point lead at the opening change.

The Magpies were helped by a nine-pointer to first-year player Dayne Beams late in the quarter, the young midfielder able to receive the ball near the top of the 50m arc, turn and shoot under no pressure from the Bombers defence.

Star Magpie Alan Didak kicked two goals in the opening quarter, including the last of the term from a clever snap.

Essendon's Patrick Ryder kept his side briefly in touch when he opened the second quarter with a nine-point goal from a 55m set shot which just cleared the hands of defenders on the goal-line.

But the Magpies quickly reasserted their dominance, kicking four of the last five goals of the term, with Anthony kicking his second in time-on after showing good judgment to take a strong goalsquare mark behind opponent Darcy Daniher.

Leading by 34 points at the main break, the Magpies wrapped up the game in the third term, with Anthony adding three more goals to take his tally to five by the last change and stretch the buffer to 40 points.

The first two came from marks on the lead, but the third was the highlight, a superb mark flying into a goal square pack with the flight of the ball.

He added to his tally with trademark accuracy in the final term, posting majors from tight in each pocket, to the delight of the Collingwood fans.

There were plenty of other good signs from the Magpies, who dominated with their run and good ball use through the middle of the ground.

Irishman Marty Clarke racked up possessions and used the ball well by foot, while Didak, Dane Swan, acting skipper Scott Pendlebury, Leon Davis and Dale Thomas put in typically classy showings.

First-year midfielders Beams and Steele Sidebottom also made handy contributions, while ruckman Chris Bryan showed some good signs with his marking around the ground and kicked two goals.

For the Bombers, there were few positives on a disappointing night.

One encouraging sign was that young running players Bachar Houli and Jason Winderlich, who both missed most of last season through injury, were two of Essendon's best.

Collingwood assistant coach Blake Caracella, in charge for the night, said Anthony, who came to the club as a key backman, was unlikely to be used in defence again given the ability he had shown up forward.

"He played quite well last year at full-forward in the last seven or eight games," Caracella said.

"You wouldn't have thought he'd played fullback for the major part of his career.

" ... Obviously if he can keep doing that all year he should be in good stead."

Caracella also said Sidebottom and Beams were both playing well enough to be in contention for the opening round of the premiership season.

Essendon coach Matthew Knights said his side let themselves down both with their skill and intensity at contests, but at least made more of a game of it after halftime.

"In the first half we were grossly disappointed with the way we played," he said.

"We were well and truly off the boil in many areas, whether it be our contests, the last kick inside 50 or our defensive play.

"... In the second half we upped the intensity and upped our level, we weren't able to make any ground on Collingwood, but we maintained it ... we were a touch better in the second half, which was pleasing."

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