The competition’s best team, Geelong, will take on Cinderella story of the year Collingwood in a blockbuster qualifier in front of a packed MCG.
The remarkable longevity of the Cats (18-4, 144.2%) continued emphatically this year as they claimed their second minor premiership in four years. In the year With more than a decade filled with nostalgia since their last flag in 2011, their road to redemption begins this weekend as they aim to clinch that elusive 10th premiership.
Under first-year coach Craig McRae, the Magpies (16-6, 104.3%) are the biggest surprise package of 2022, having lifted themselves from 17th to fourth in 12 months. Their success has largely been built on an impressive record in recent games, which has seen them win 11 of their last 12 games by 11 points or less.
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The winner of this game will host the winner of Melbourne and Brisbane in two weeks’ time in the first preliminary final.
The loser of this game will host the winner of the Fremantle Western Bulldogs in the first semi-final next week.
There were no late changes for either side, with Mark O’Connor (Geelong) and Nathan Kruger (Collingwood) named medical subs.
Quarter-by-quarter match report
The first quarter
Geelong had a great chance early in the game after Gary Rohan scored inside the 50 but was unable to convert.
The Pies attacked the other way and Patrick Lipinski made a big tackle before converting a snap set shot to get his side on the board as the Black and White faithful exploded.
“That’s been a trait of Collingwood all year, their ability to press and hunt the opposition, that’s what created the goal,” Channel 7 commentator Daisy Pearce said.
It was all Collingwood at the start of the game, it was repeated after heavy pressure in the 50s, but he missed two chances.
Geelong have a big chance of their own after Tyson Steagle mows down Isaac Quinor but he misses a shot himself.
Brody Mihocek continued his perfect start with a superb save from Jamie Elliott to score Pius’ second goal.
Collingwood got another golden opportunity and made the most of this one as Josh Dykos curled around his body for Peace’s third goal of the day, much to the delight of his famous father, Peter Dykos, who was caught on camera.
The Pi’s had several more chances but failed to convert, Jack Geneva perhaps should have been awarded a free kick for a push in the back.
Collingwood eventually took a 14-point lead into quarter-time, 3.4 (23) to 1.3 (9).
Collingwood continued to attack and press hard at the start of the second half but once again conceded goals.
Tom Hawkins made them pay with a regular shot from a narrow angle to encourage the Cats’ way to the top of the field.
Max Holmes had a chance to give the Paces the lead with an open goal, but a key error saw him shoot before clearing the ball.
But the Cats kept coming, Patrick Dangerfield finding Gary Rohan deep inside 50 and converting the goal to make it three-straight Geelong majors.
Chris Scott’s team upped the ante in the second term, including a repeat in the 50s.
Channel 7 caller Luke Darcy said: “What an amazing response from the cats.”
The Pies had their chance to respond after Mihokek marked inside 50, but when the play was cut short, Geelong came to hurt them at the other end with a goal from Brad Close, which saw the team suddenly take the lead.
This match kicks off at 4:35 pm AEST from the MCG.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504) from 3.30pm AEST.
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