Magpies crush Cats to reach grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies crush Cats to reach grand final

17/09/2010 11:59:18 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood will enter the AFL grand final in awesome form after ending Geelong's era of dominance with a devastating 18.12 (120) to 11.13 (79) preliminary final victory on Friday night.

The Cats won two of the past three grand finals and thrashed the Magpies by 73 points in a preliminary final last year, but a younger, hungrier Collingwood outfit made them look second class in front of a thunderous 95,241-strong crowd.

Collingwood will face the winner of Saturday night's St Kilda-Western Bulldogs preliminary final in the season decider.

They blitzed the Cats from the start, booting eight of the first nine goals to lead by 43 points less than a minute into the second quarter.

Midfielders Dane Swan, Alan Didak and Scott Pendlebury led the way, Brownlow Medal favourite Swan following his best afield showing in the Magpies' qualifying final thrashing of the Western Bulldogs with a 33-touch, two-goal performance.

But Collingwood dominated everywhere.

Even their one notable previous weakness in a superb season - inaccuracy in front of goal - disappeared, their first-quarter barrage including a run of seven goals without a miss.

The tone was set when erratic kicking key forward Travis Cloke nailed the opening set shot four minutes in.

The first-term avalanche also included a remarkable Leigh Brown major, the big utility's 70m bomb taking a fortunate sideways bounce over the line.

Collingwood's dominance of an increasingly rattled opponent was underlined late in the quarter, first when Geelong fullback Matthew Scarlett was caught at halfback by Dale Thomas, the turnover resulting in a major to Pendlebury.

Three minutes later, Ben Johnson danced easily around Cats captain Cameron Ling to put the Magpies 37 points clear at the first change.

The second term quickly headed the same way.

A panicked Joel Corey handball in defence allowed Didak to soccer to Cloke, whose slick handball set up Steele Sidebottom for a snap 34 seconds in and 43-point advantage.

The Cats' panic was illustrated by their huge numbers of handballs for little result.

It was also shown by a blatant second-quarter interchange infringement, to gift a goal to Thomas.

The lead stretched to 62 by halftime and reached 81 midway through the third quarter, before the Magpies eased up.

Collingwood have some concerns.

Midfielder Luke Ball did not return after limping off in the third quarter.

And a front-on bump by Thomas on Geelong's Harry Taylor in the second term could attract match review panel scrutiny.

Geelong have bigger worries, an ageing side suddenly looking in need of an overhaul before they can again challenge for a flag.

That job will be harder if they lose reigning Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett, clearly their best against the Magpies with 40 touches, to Gold Coast.

If Ablett has not already decided, the lure of sticking around for the chance of more premierships will have faded considerably.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said Ball had only suffered from hamstring cramp and should be fine for the grand final, but there had been no point risking returning him to the play.

He said forward Leon Davis, a late withdrawal with hamstring soreness, should also be available, while veteran defender Simon Prestigiacomo would also be in contention, having recovered from a thigh injury.

Malthouse praised the side's first half.

"The boys' ability to hit the scoreboard and work hard to put the pressure both on the scoreboard and on the ground was terrific and really did set up the win," he said.

Cats coach Mark Thompson said Geelong had a good year, but clearly needed some changes.

"It's a bit of a reality check when you come up against a side that plays a first quarter like that," Thompson said.

"It's happened twice in five or six weeks and maybe again against St Kilda, so we've got to go back and change the way that we play a bit.

"We probably knew that at the start of the year, but we just haven't had the total buy-in from the playing group."

But he said the club's era of success was not necessarily over.

"I still think we've got quality (players) coming in, I think our age from the core of the group is quite healthy," he said.

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