By Jason Phelan 12:45 AM
Sun 20 September, 2009
GEELONG has stormed into its third grand final in succession with an emphatic 73-point thrashing of Collingwood in Saturday night's preliminary final at the MCG.
The Pies were well in the contest at half time, but the Cats were not to be denied a shot at premiership glory against Friday night victor St Kilda and played simply irresistible footy on their way to the 17.18 (120) to 6.11 (47) triumph.
Geelong had winners across every line in the often awe-inspiring display.
Gary Ablett (34 possessions), Joel Corey (34) and Jimmy Bartel (32) got their hands on the ball around the stoppages while Cameron Ling ensured prolific Magpie playmaker Dane Swan was unable to have a major influence.
Harry Taylor and Matthew Scarlett shut out Travis Cloke and John Anthony respectively while Andrew Mackie (22) and Corey Enright (25) supplied plenty of run from the back half.
Paul Chapman (26 touches) led the way at the other end with five goals, and though Cameron Mooney and Tom Hawkins only contributed three between them, they provided crumbers Ablett, Shannon Byrnes and Travis Varcoe with the opportunities to boot two goals each.
After the heroics of last week's semi-final win over Adelaide, the Pies struggled to find contributors with Shane O'Bree (26), Alan Didak (25) and Ben Johnson (22) the only players to crack over 20 possessions.
Up forward Collingwood was bereft of ideas and could not summon a multiple goalkicker.
The heavy showers that swept across the MCG in the hour before the opening bounce had subsided by the time the game got underway, but they made conditions tricky nonetheless.
Johnson was the unlikely first goalkicker inside the first minute with Collingwood intent on adding to that early advantage, sending wave after wave of attacks inside 50.
Harry O'Brien drifted forward for a long bomb that had the Pies out by 14 points before the opposition had gone inside 50 even once, but it appeared to snap the Cats out of their collective trance.
Ablett made the most of some loose checking to gather 12 disposals for the term and kick-start his side's challenge. First Brad Ottens and Byrnes converted set shots, then Chapman gave Geelong a deserved first lead of the night.
The ball rarely ventured outside the Cats' forward half, but they did not extend their dominance to the scoreboard.
Mooney missed two gettable set shots and more chances went begging with five straight behinds giving Geelong a 10-point buffer at quarter time.
Collingwood looked set for a long night when Chapman added his second just 12 seconds after the restart and Swan spurned the chance to answer.
However, his behind was the Pies' first score since the six-minute mark of the opening term.
Darren Milburn put Leigh Brown on the goal line with a 50m penalty as the Pies got one against the run, but Ablett and Hawkins chimed in for the Cats to press ahead.
Ottens had a set shot to put his side 29 points up 23 minutes in, but he left the door ajar with a bad miss.
It was kicked wide open when Tarkyn Lockyer caught Scarlett holding the ball and Didak made the most of a horrible James Kelly turnover deep in Geelong's defence.
The resultant goals sliced the margin to 11 points, giving coach Mark Thomspon plenty to think about at the main break.
But the pressure the Pies were able to exert late in the first half disappeared into the cold night as the Cats stamped their authority in the third term.
Ablett, Enright and Chapman were important around the stoppages as Geelong set up shop in their forward half once more with Corey, Mooney then Steve Johnson getting on the score sheet in quick succession.
When Byrnes won a foot race with Lockyer to slam through his side's fourth major of the quarter the margin soon ballooned out to 40 points.
It was always going to difficult for the Pies from there, but if they were hoping to take advantage of a drop-off in the Cats' intensity they were sorely disappointed.
Another six goals sailed through as Collingwood failed to find another after Brent Macaffer's effort in the shadows of three-quarter time.
Geelong 3.6 7.7 11.13 17.18 (120)
Collingwood 2.2 5.8 6.9 6.11 (47)
Geelong: Chapman 5, Hawkins 2, Ablett 2, Byrnes 2, Varcoe 2, Ottens, S. Johnson, Mooney, Corey
Collingwood: L. Brown, Johnson, O'Brien, Lockyer, Didak, Macaffer
Geelong: Ablett, Corey, Chapman, Ling, Mackie, Taylor, Scarlett, Bartel
Collingwood: O'Bree, L. Brown, Shaw, O'Brien, Didak
Collingwood: Pendlebury (leg) replaced in selected side by Beams
Umpires: McLaren, Rosebury, Ryan
Official crowd: 87,258 at the MCG
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.
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