Geelong won their ninth premiership with a crushing 38-point Grand Final win against Collingwood.
The Cats and the Pies were the two best teams of the season and they played out an epic contest in front of 99,537 fans at the MCG, with Chris Scott’s men prevailing 18.11 (119) to 12.9 (81).
The win over the Magpies, who had lost only two matches for the season, both against the Cats, gave Geelong its third premiership in five seasons.
Geelong eked out a seven-point lead at three-quarter time after a see-sawing third term that saw the lead change hands five times, but in the last quarter the Magpies couldn’t go with the Cats, who finished full of running.
Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood both had an enormous influence around the stoppages and it was Bartel who got the nod for the Norm Smith Medal for his 26-possession, three-goal performance.
Tom Hawkins played the game of his career in the absence of James Podsiadly, who was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. After a goalless first half, Hawkins became a focal point when the game was on the line and finished with three goals and gave another to Steve Johnson.
Travis Varcoe got his team off to a dream start when he goaled with just 10 seconds on the clock and the Pies had to defend grimly in the opening minutes.
The Magpies were able to soak up the early pressure and hit back mainly through Travis Cloke, who proved a handful for Harry Taylor, and got in front early in the second quarter after trailing by a point at the first break.
The Cats lost Podsiadly midway through the second quarter when he was up-ended in a marking contest by Ben Reid, who had spoiled strongly. The Geelong forward crashed to the turf on his right shoulder and he was stretchered from the field, with his spot taken by substitute Mitch Duncan.
Scott Pendlebury struggled with a Joel Corey tag early, but he worked into the game well to finish with 33 touches and 10 clearances. He was important in the third quarter when both teams refused to be bowed, but couldn’t stop the Cats edging in front.
The Pies needed a lift from Brownlow medallist Dane Swan in the last quarter, but Cameron Ling had successfully nullified him all day and he couldn’t shake the tag.
Johnson, who had been under an injury cloud all week, capped an excellent game with the first goal of the final term and when Bartel pushed that advantage out past four goals the premiership cup was headed back to Geelong for the third time in five years.
Scott coached the Cats to a flag in his first year in charge – a feat last accomplished by Alan Joyce at Hawthorn in 1988.
by Terence Johns