COLLINGWOOD 2.3 3.5 5.6 10.8 (68) HAWTHORN 2.4 4.7 7.11 9.11 (65)
GOALS Collingwood: Dawes 3, Cloke 3, Jolly, Swan, Ball, Davis. Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Guerra, Rioli, Lewis, Hodge, Puopolo, Mitchell.
BEST Collingwood: Swan, Ball, Pendlebury, Tarrant, Cloke, Shaw. Hawthorn: Lewis, Mitchell, Gibson, Burgoyne, Sewell, Hodge.
UMPIRES S. Ryan, Meredith, Jeffery, Rosebury.
CROWD 87,112 at MCG.
IN A game this tough, this tight, there was always going to be a moment which would prove definitive. That it came just 39 seconds before the final siren gives you some idea just how inseparable Collingwood and Hawthorn were last night.
That Collingwood moves into a second straight grand final and not the Hawks probably comes down to Dale Thomas’s nailing of Hawthorn heartbeat Cyril Rioli in the most important tackle of the season, Rioli streaming forward to give his side one last shot at what would have been an amazing win.
The Hawks, seen as an honourable challenger unlikely to pull off what still would have been a major upset, were magnificent, leading the game from just before quarter-time until the 19-minute mark of the final term. Twice in that term alone, they looked set to be overrun. Twice they hit back with crucial goals, the second, to Lance Franklin, as good a goal as you’ve seen in 2011, and at the most opportune time imaginable.
Collingwood was so far below its usual best for so long that you wondered whether it was just going to be one of those nights. But the Magpies were magnificent, too, when it really mattered. And it’s seldom mattered more than with a 17-point deficit at three-quarter-time of the second-biggest game of the year.
Dane Swan had been great all night and was critical in the clinch. So was Scott Pendlebury. Luke Ball stood up in the heat, snapping the match-winning goal with just under three minutes left. And Thomas, who until the final term had a night he’d prefer to forget, won’t play too many more important quarters than the last, which reaped seven disposals, and four tackles.
But for the bulk of the night for the Pies, it was a real struggle. Nerves appeared to play as big a part in the opening to this game as any tactics or planning.
The normally silky skills of Leon Davis deserted him temporarily, turning it over a couple of times and putting another out on the full. The Hawks were hardly immune, either, Ryan Schoenmakers looking a little jittery again early, and Franklin giving away a silly late free kick that Magpie key forward Chris Dawes should have converted. Instead he hit the point post.