Pies secure top spot

By Jennifer Witham 9:37 PM Sat 21 August, 2010
COLLINGWOOD will claim the minor premiership for the first time in 33 years after outlasting Adelaide by three points in a nail-biter at the MCG on Saturday night.

The Magpies’ battling 6.18 (54) to 7.9 (51) win puts them a game and a half clear of second placed Geelong with one round remaining, meaning the McCelland Trophy will head to the Westpac Centre after next weekend.

The Pies ground out their ninth straight victory despite leading for just nine minutes of the game - two in the first quarter and seven in the fourth - after a Travis Cloke behind gave them a one-point lead at the 19-minute mark of the final term.

From there they held off the Crows and managed to steal the four points despite woeful accuracy in front of goal that included 2.8 in the final quarter.

The last time the Magpies won nine games in a row was in 1990 - the year of their last premiership.

After scoring the first goal of the night through Ivan Maric, the Crows held the lead at every change but their biggest advantage was just 14 points early in the second term. 

For the large part of the game, they looked like continuing their late-season revival, with Scott Thompson (29 touches) and Graham Johncock (27 touches, eight rebounds) serving them well.

But the skills of Steele Sidebottom (28 possessions) and Scott Pendlebury (30 disposals, five tackles), and the last quarters of Dane Swan and Jarryd Blair got the home side over the line.

The Magpies were uncharacteristically stagnant in the first half as the Crows locked them down and stifled them with intense pressure, with rebounder Harry O’Brien kept to two first-half possession (five for the game) by Will Young.

The shutdown saw the Pies record their lowest half time score all year and equal to the one they managed against the Crows in their winning semi-final last season.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said afterwards the Magpies hurt their opportunities by being “too cute” with the ball against a formidable opposition. 

“Neil Craig doesn’t allow his players to play dead. It was earmarked in my diary as going to be a game that will go to the wire,” he said.

“It wasn’t working for us because I reckon we were too cute; we just thought that the player with the ball was going to do more than he was able to do.”

The Magpies outscored the Crows by 1.7 in the final quarter to whittle away the visitors’ three-quarter time lead of 10 points.

Adelaide coach Neil Craig said experience and a letdown in defensive pressure cost his side in the end and the narrow loss spoiled a performance he described as “the best against Collingwood in a long time”.

“You always need to get a winning culture,” he said.

“I think it was a great game of footy by both clubs. The usual words - brave, effort - and you could say that for Collingwood as well.

“We’re the loser today, but I think it was a great game of AFL footy.”

The Magpies will aim for 10 consecutive wins when they meet Hawthorn next Saturday at the MCG while the Crows will host St Kilda at AAMI Stadium for their last match of 2010.

Collingwood    1.3    3.5    4.10    6.18 (54)
Adelaide    3.3    4.7    6.8    7.9 (51)

Thomas 2, L. Brown 2, Cloke, Didak
Adelaide: Walker 2, Maric, Young, Henderson, Tippett, Stevens

Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Thomas, Didak, Macaffer, Swan, Blair
Adelaide: Thompson, Johncock, Dangerfield, Sloane, Stevens, Young

Adelaide: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Farmer, Stevic, Findlay

Official crowd: 42,159 at the MCG

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs
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