The greatest team of allPosted: October 1, 2011
Geelong has claimed its 9th premiership and won their 3rd flag in 5 years rising to the challenge to stun Collingwood with a 38-point victory at the MCG.
The two best performed teams of 2011 played out an epic contest infront of 99,537 fans on the biggest stage of the AFL calendar on Saturday, the Cats prevailing 18.11 (119) to 12.9 (81).
Just 12 months after the departures of Gary Ablett, Mark Thompson and to a lesser extent, former president Frank Costa, the Cats have marked themselves as one of the great sides of all time, with constant comparisons to the Brisbane Lions of the 2000s and the Hawthorn contingent of the 1980s.
Geelong got out to a 7-point lead at three-quarter time after an eventful third term which saw the lead change five times, but the Cats had all guns blazing when it mattered in the last quarter, who finished with all the momentum, as the Pies were kept goalless.
Midfield duo Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood had an enormous impact on the final result and in around the stoppages, but it was Bartel who was rewarded with the Norm Smith Medal, following a match-winning 26-possession, 3-goal performance.
Tom Hawkins played as though his life depended on the match, and only got better, even after the loss of his partner in crime, James Podsiadly just before half time to a shoulder injury. After a goalless first half, Hawkins became the go-to man in attack for the Cats, finishing with 3 goals and setting up others.
Travis Varcoe was on fire early with the opening two goals of the game, forcing the Pies to lock down on the skilful playmaker, who finished with 3 goals after kicking his third late in the final term.
As all great sides do, the Magpies responded to the pressure early to finish with 3 goals to half time but failed to have an impact in the second half after Geelong defender Tom Lonergan was moved onto him and curtailed his influence.
The Pies kept coming and took a slim 1-point advantage going into the main break.
The Cats lost Podsiadly midway through the second quarter when he landed awkwardly in a marking contest with Magpie defender Ben Reid and had to be stretchered off the ground with a dislocated shoulder. The Cats subbed their key forward out of the match, and bringing in the running Mitch Duncan, who was a key late in the match after struggling with the pace of a Grand Final early.
Magpie star Scott Pendlebury struggled to shake a Joel Corey tag early, but eventually got himself into the contest to finish as one of best in the black-and-white finishing with 33 possessions and 10 clearances. He was vital for the Pies around the stoppages when the game was neck-and-neck in the third term, but his efforts alone couldn’t stop the Geelong juggernaut when it mattered most.
Geelong captain Cameron Ling tagged Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan and kept him well below his best, while the lack of fitness of defender Ben Reid and ruckman Darren Jolly became increasingly evident as the game went on.
The Pies subbed out the poorly performed Jarryd Blair and activated Alex Fasolo at three-quarter time but it was too little too late as the Cats got on a roll in the last term.
The big story was Steve Johnson, who shook off a serious knee injury just 7 days ago to kick a match winning 4 goals in a cameo performance alongside Hawkins, kicking the first goal of the final term to put a dint in the Pies chances of a back-to-back flag. But when Bartel pushed that advantage past 4 goals a few moments later, the premiership cup was always going to be travelling down the high way to Skilled Stadium for the third time in five years.
Former Brisbane Lions premiership player Chris Scott now becomes the first coach since Allan Joyce at Hawthorn in 1988, to win a premiership as a first year coach.
Collingwood 4.2 9.3 12.6 12.9 (81)
Geelong 4.3 8.6 13.7 18.11 (119)
Collingwood: Cloke 3, Krakouer 3, Sidebottom 2, Ball, Johnson, Wellingham, Brown
Geelong: Johnson 4, Hawkins 3, Bartel 3, Varcoe 3, Selwood 2, Stokes, Duncan, Ling
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Thomas, Sidebottom, Tarrant, Ball, Brown, Johnson
Geelong: Bartel, Selwood, Hawkins, Ling, Ottens, Johnson, Lonergan, Chapman, Varcoe, Mackie
NORM SMITH MEDALLIST: Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)
Geelong: James Podsiadly (dislocated shoulder)
Collingwood: Jarryd Blair replaced by Alex Fasolo at three quarter time.
Geelong: James Podsiadly replaced by Mitch Duncan in the second quarter.
UMPIRES: Donlon, Ryan, Rosebury
CROWD: 99,537 at the MCG