Preliminary Final – Collingwood v GWS: Arrogance doesn’t blight an absorbing contest


Mixed signals hit me pre-game.


Walking up my driveway to my car, Collingwood scarf fluttering in the wind, a fearless magpie barely battered an eyelid as I walked right on by. I turned around, making eye contact with it. Fair game – maybe it was a day for brave magpies.


At the MCG, the rain was holding off. An ominous stormy cloud passed right over me, threatening a downpour. Nothing came of it, barely a drop. This could work out incredibly well.


Selling records, a plethora of arrogant Collingwood fans change this positive start. “I don’t need a Record today, I’ll just get mine next week,” one chirped. I buried my head in my hands, questioning why people publicly say these things. Many more refused to mince words with the smattering of GWS supporters who walked past Jolimont Station. One rowdy group at a picnic bench couldn’t stop recognising the visiting team was from “the sh*t part of Sydney”. Initially optimistic, this blatant arrogance had me racked with nervous by the time I snuck into a free seat in the Great Southern Stand.


A tense opening, Crisp’s dare and ability to break the lines in his goal assist to Elliott cooled down these fears. A great start, a wonderful play. But then the rain fell late, delaying itself so it could impact on the match in full force. Both sides were slightly sloppy, yet the game seemed to get better. Players were going hammer and tong, not fearing their wellbeing. GWS settled, structuring up well to allow Finlayson to slam through their opening major.


Great match-ups were everywhere. Moore and Cameron was the most enticing, but de Boer bouncing between Pendlebury and Treloar was also intriguing. The game was in a stalemate, both teams applying too much pressure for the other to break through. It took a moment of magic from Stephenson, a clever soccer into space so his pace could gift him a snap on goal that just fell through. This wasn’t indicative of the play – GWS had worked out the prelim would be a territory game, and were largely dominant except for this breakaway moment.


It appeared the Pies were holding on in the first half. Cameron got on the board in the second, as did Reid for the Magpies. All of Collingwood’s best players were their defenders. Moore, Maynard, Howe and Crisp were all brilliant, absorbing attack after attack and rebounding with aplomb. Against all odds, the Pies came through another quarter where they were outplayed in general contests with a three-point lead. Either GWS had given all they could and would now relent, or they would intensify their efforts to break open Collingwood.


There was no contest in the third term. The Premiership quarter belonged to the boys in orange. No initial parries, the Giants scored early and heavily. Daniels harassed Pies defenders until he could keep the ball alive and snap through a miraculous goal. Moore was playing superbly on Cameron, yet was let down by his midfield easily turning over the ball in horrendous positions. GWS had threatened this, and finally they had worn down the Pies enough to capitalise. Finlayson got a cheap ruck goal when the whistle wasn’t blown, incensing the heavily black and white crowd. But this boo wasn’t just at the decision – the frustration of what their team was dishing up had also gotten to them.


The Giants looked superb by the time the three quarter time siren rang out. The small sections of travelling fans became rowdy, inflicting their revenge for the pre-game treatment they received from cocky opposition fans. Their team had a functional midfield with Williams thrown into the mix, his gritty play combined with speedy flare. Davis had been thrown forward as a decoy, his bravery to not disadvantage his team being critical to that third term onslaught.


Just as I disconnected all feelings, ready to relent my passion for a potential Grand Final, something remarkable happened. Cameron kicked a very Dom Sheed-esque goal to start the final term, but from then on the game shifted. Unable to crack through GWS’ defensive structures, the midfield flicked the switch and went into intense attack mode. Grundy decided he was sick of tapping it down to sharking orange opponents, instead ripping it out with his own hands and slamming it forward. Sidebottom finally inserted himself on the game, while Elliott and Stephenson applied pressure.


Mayne and Thomas were the unlikely scorers. After Stephenson’s drought-breaking major, Thomas managed to sneak through a goal that was clearly touched. Controversy was exactly what wasn’t needed, and the last 15 minutes were great despite this unnerving thought at the back of minds that that decision was woeful. Mayne was fed up with his talls who refused to impose themselves, soccering through his own goal before taking a defiant pack mark. Right on his range, the soaked Sherrin looked the goods until it dropped, flicking the wrist of a Giants defender, refusing to give the Pies what they wanted.


There was so much time left, but the Giants played it well. Mumford stood up, using his bulky frame to absorb the Sherrin and the tackles that came with it. Adams had one chance, a daring snap from 40 metres, that curved right towards the open goal mouth before crashing into the post. The siren would soon sound – it wasn’t meant to be Collingwood’s day.


Disappointment was paramount, but amazement was there. The Giants deserved this – they had out-thought and out-fought the Pies in a cracking match. Now, they can only hope their crazy ending doesn’t tire them before the big dance. For the Pies, they’ll be left to once again handle tremendous heartbreak, despite a brave effort. Unfortunately, that’s just footy.



COLLINGWOOD     2.0     3.2     3.5     7.10     (52)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     1.3     2.5     7.7     8.8     (56)

Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Reid, Elliott, Mayne
Greater Western Sydney: 
Cameron 3, Finlayson 2, Taranto, Williams, Daniels

Collingwood: Crisp, Grundy, Pendlebury, Maynard, Wills, Howe, Treloar
Greater Western Sydney: 
Williams, Taranto, Haynes, Perryman, Cameron, Kelly, Finlayson

Greater Western Sydney: 
Davis (calf)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Stephens, Meredith

Official crowd: 77,828 at the MCG



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  2. Frank Taylor says

    Nice report Sean, well done.
    Floreat Pica

  3. Anthony Thomas says

    Best account of the game so far. I can’t stand pre-game arrogance either – it rarely ends well. Thanks for all your Collingwood match reports this season. Let’s hope for one extra (positive) report next year. Go Pies

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