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By Ben Jensen twitter.com/thecattery AFL GRAND FINAL GEELONG HAS DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD to win the 2011 AFL Premiership. The Cats were well beaten in the second quarter but pegged back two goals before half time to remain in the game. They blew Collingwood away in the third and fourth quarters, in front by just seven points at the final break but completely blew them away in the last, booting five goals to none as the Geelong fans celebrated like never before. Jimmy Bartel was Norm Smith Medallist, kicking two key goals and playing well all over the ground. Steve Johnson kicked five goals, not bad for a guy who many tipped to miss out with a knee injury suffered only a week ago on this very ground. FULL SCORES PHOTO GALLERY PREMIERS MERCHANDISE DVD
The Cats started off well, Travis Varcoe having a dream start with the opening goal with only 15 seconds on the clock. He had a second after four minutes later and the Cats were away, the Magpies not quite out of their trackie dacks let alone out of the starting block. The Cats also managed a couple of behinds however and before you knew it, Travis Cloke who we kind of trashed-talked in The Age yesterday had two very good long goals, scores more or less level after 18 minutes. Andrew Krakouer, who you may have heard mentioned is 'on the road to redemeption' snagged a third to put the Pies in control. Johnson, who overcome enourmous obstacles to play today, kicked his first straight after. Luke Ball, who won the game for the Magpies last week over Hawthorn, put them ahead again before Joel Selwood gave Geelong the lead again; the Cats in front by just one behind at quarter time.
The ocassion threatened to turn into a nightmare for Geelong fans and seventh heaven for the Collingwood army as they banged on three quick goals in the second quarter, Travis Cloke making a mockery of my bagging again while up the other end poor old Tom Hawkins copped a bit of stick from his own fans as he missed a few after taking good, strong marks. Matthew Stokes booted Geelong's first for the term after 10 minutes but the Magpies cancelled that out through Krakouer after 17 minutes. In between Hawkins and Johnson each kicked behinds. Johnson added another for the Cats but again the Magpies equalised, Steele Sidebottom doing the damage. The wind was taken out of the sails of the Geelong side for a while there after James Podsiadly suffered a serious enough shoulder injury to be stretchered from the ground and being almost immediately substituted out for Mitch Duncan. In a long quarter, Geelong really got themselves off the canvas, kicking the final two goals to keep in touch, Selwood getting his second and Bartel his first. Bartel of course was my choice in The Age yesterday, least I got that one right. Collingwood really had it over Geelong that quarter but only had a 3 point head to show for it.
At this point we should mention we had never seen the MCG so busy; had been there at a 99,000 game before but this time every man and his dog seemed to want a beer; queues stretched for miles, even to go to the toilet (men aren't used to queing more than a minute). So we decided against getting at beer at the 'G.
JOHNSON'S GOAL IN THE FIRST QUARTER BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN
After half-time Tom Hawkins came out rejuevanated like he'd hit the smelling salts, the kind those Eastern European weight lifters take before clean-and-jerking a small Euro smart car. It wasn't long before he bagged his first goal, deftly soccering through a loose ball, using his size to his advantage, the hapless Ben Reid probably wishing he wasn't there and Presti or someone else took his spot. What then happened over 15 minutes was a game of cat and mouse; Wellingham equalised against Hawkins' goal, Hawkins kicked another, this time from a set shot, and again the Wobblers cancelled it out through Leigh Brown, one of their better players for the day. The Cats had the better end of the stick though for the rest, outscoring the Magpies three goals to one. Stokes and my boy Bartel kicked one apiece, as did Mitch Duncan, who struggled in the second quarter but had a real good crack at it after half time like Hawkins. Ben Johnson added a late behind before the three quarter siren rang to leave Geelong in front by 7 points.
The tension was palpable; as Geelong fans we sort of thought we had done enough and could finish the job but who knows in this game?! Collingwood likewise may have felt the same, after all their so called gun in Dane Swan hadn't done much - what about this era of dominance they were in? Well, turns out we were proven right. By the time the Cats' lead was unassailable soccer-style chants of 'Geeeeeeeee-Lonnnnnnnng' rang out throughout the ground, a bit of a slap in the face to Collingwood fans led by Joffa who brought that into the Australian game. Never mind, it was great. Hawkins was at it again though didn't kick a goal, he may have kicked one but flicked it by hand to Johnson who did his circus trick round-the-corner shot. Fair enough though as Hawkins kicked two behinds to start the term. Varcoe and Bartel kicked their third goals each, Johnson his fifth and it was party time at the 'G! Even Cameron Ling got into the act with 6 big ones.
Brown should have kicked his second but missed, in his final AFL game at the age of 29. Matthew Scarlett really lapped up the dieing minutes, egging on the cheer squad behind him. What a great job the Geelong fans did all day, all around the ground - in our area (Q52, Olympic Stand) you felt like you were in a cheer squad. The sting was well out of the game with nearly 10 minutes to go, Collingwood forwards barely challenging the ball and their tackles of Geelong defenders almost non-existant, except for Chris Dawes who tried to be a tough-guy at a couple stoppages.
The Cats prevailed by 38 points, a magic point for punters in the line betting - hope your lucky numbers came up as they say! A bit of a circus after the siren with Mick Malthouse getting a number of send-offs, later revealing he would quit the Magpies immediately and not take up a 'Director of Coaching' position.
Anyway Jimmy Bartel was awarded the Norm Smith Medal, a pretty fair call. Geelong were so even today, and a number of players (such as Hawkins) were great but had their flaws, others really good in patches. But Bartel's goals were crucial, keeping the Cats in the contest. Joel Selwood was good, getting in and under when he had to and running outside other times. Taylor really struggled but picked himself up, Tom Lonergan taking over Cloke and really shutting him down. Andrew Mackie is a great player, thankfully coach Chris Scott's got him in a good frame of mind after his struggles last season. Cameron Ling the Captain deserves a mention, he had a really good game, nominatelly on Swan. We didn't notice James Kelly that often, though he was named in the best. Scarlett was ever the quiet achiever (except for the last few minutes claiming victory).
So all in all a great day, pretty much a bonus Premiership, one we did not at all expect for the year, especially after last year's Prelim final belting by the Pies. All credit to the players, they clearly rated themselves, and of course the coaching staff. It was great to see Brenton Sanderson down near the interchange bench towards the end of the game, and it was also great to see the off-field staff get their photo taken on the podium as the players ran their victory lap.
FIELD: Chris Donlon, Brett Rosebury, Shaun Ryan EM:
CROWD: 99,537 at MCG, Melbourne
MCG BEFORE THE GAME
PLAYERS LINE UP PRIOR TO NATIONAL
SINGER VANESSA AMOROSI
CAMERON LING WINS THE TOSS, KICKS TO THE PUNT ROAD END
GEELONG PLAYERS SHAKE HANDS WITH UMPIRES
GEELONG PLAYERS' FINAL HUDDLE BEFORE THE GAME
MATTHEW STOKES COPS ONE IN THE BACK (NOT PAID)
TRAVIS VARCOE CELEBRATES HIS SECOND GOAL WITH MATTHEW
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AFL GRAND FINAL 2011
COLLINGWOOD V GEELONG
SATURDAY 1 OCTOBER 2011 14:30
GRAND FINAL DVD - $34.95 + P&H
JOSH HUNT GIVES PAUL CHAPMAN A RIDE WITH THE PREMIERSHIP CUP