B Jensen July 9 2004

GEELONG put an end to Collingwood's fanciful finals aspirations with a 29-point victory at Telstra Dome tonight. Geelong has once again won after an interstate match. Amazingly, Collingwood were the favorites going into tonight's match. It was argued that Geelong had not won on a Friday night in years, had just played interstate, and lost both games to the wobblers in 2003, although they were undefeated against the Pies this century up until then. Collingwood's fanciful finals hopes are not well and truly gone.

Pre-game Collingwood president and channel nein doyen Eddie Maguire battled allegations he had withheld information for three weeks that his team was involved in ugly scenes while on the Gold Coast; at the same time highlighting rumoured troubles at St Kilda. But by the time the ball was finally bounced, Geelong at last had a chance to prove that it could win on a Friday night, their first (and last) such match for the season.

Gary Ablett finished the match with as good as 20 possessions, and an incredible one goal, six behinds. Ablett's relentless attack on the ball (9 kicks, 9 handballs, 0 marks) were complimented by a game high 9 tackles. Fullback Matthew Scarlett lined up on Anthony Rocca while centre-halfback took Collingwood's Chris Tarrant. These matchups were ultimately successful.

In front of a sellout crowd of over 50,000, Collingwood skipper Nathan Buckley opened up the clash with a poster from a relatively straightforward shot inside 50. The angry, bald man, Paul Chapman soon snapped the opening goal of the match off his left boot. Scores were level at quarter time, three goals two behinds apiece.

The second quarter was more of the same, a scrappy contest with neither side dominating but Geelong always threatening to go on with it. The Magpies held a three point advantage at half time.

The Cats grabbed the lead before three quarter time before blowing the Pies to the shisenhousen in the forth quarter. Geelong's second goal in the third term earned them the highest lead in the match so far - the first time the lead was greater than one goal. An arsey goal to Chris Tarrant brought the wobblers back to within two points deep into the third term.

Geelong's first goal in the forth quarter was Tim Callan's first ever, in his second AFL match. After making his debut in the Round 22 win over St Kilda in late 2003, Callan has played well in the VFL but been unable, until now, to force his way into the AFL side.

Brownlow medallist Buckley pegged the lead back to within one solitary kick. But that was as close the the Pies would get all night, Geelong's five goal final term unanswered. Anthony Rocca received a charity free kick in the dyeing minutes to peg the lead back to the final margin of 29 points, deep in 'junk time'.

As some wobbler cheer-mob member answered Geelong's finishing goals by dangling handbags, players such as Paul Chapman, Cameron Ling and Cameron Mooney showed that, if anything, these Cats carried nothing less than handbags full of housebricks. As opposed to the Collingwood recycled IGA shopping bags full of black and gold brand hot air.

In hindsight it may have been a much greater winning margin, had the Cats kicked straight. Captain Steven King returned to form - was one of the best on ground despite spending extended periods on the interchange. Full marks to Bomber Thompson and the rest of the match committee for not rushing him back to full games. King could be just the weapon the Cats need to defeat teams like the Saints, Swans the second time around and make a meaningful impact in September.

Scarlett once again demonstrated he has no serious challengers to his All Australian position. The resurgent James Bartel, Gary Ablett and Paul Chapman were popularly adjudged the best afield in the midfield and up forward.

Next week Geelong host the Sydney Swans. Sydney defeated the Cats back in round 3 but this time the Cats are travelling much better. The Cats want to keep their home ground advantage intact while the Swans want to overtake Geelong on the ladder. But the Cats have other ideas, and once again enjoy a relatively clear injury slate, besides the loss of James Kelly for the season.

Kelly should be able to resume running in December, and be able to play again in 2005. Geelong's other worry will be whether or not Scarlett survives trial-by-media this weekend.

GEELONG: 3.2 5.9 7.14 12.22 (94) DEFEATED
COLLINGWOOD: 3.2 6.6 7.9 9.11 (65)

GOALS: GEELONG: Graham, Chapman, King 2, Corey, Ling, Kingsley, Ablett, Bartel, Callan 1 COLLINGWOOD: Buckley, Tarrant, Lockyer 2, Didak, Licuria, Rocca 1
BEST: GEELONG: Scarlett, Ablett, Bartel, Ling, Corey, Chapman, King, Johnson COLLINGWOOD: Clement, Lockyer, Buckley, Didak, Tarrant