Collingwood fell to a season-ending defeat against Sydney last night. Photo: Quentin Jones
SYDNEY SWANS 5.5 7.9 9.14 13.18 (96)
COLLINGWOOD 2.3 3.6 5.8 10.10 (70)
GOALS: Sydney: Jetta 3, Bolton 2, Kennedy 2, Roberts-Thomson 2, Goodes, Bird, O'Keefe, Mumford. Collingwood: Cloke 3, Fasolo, Johnson, Dawes, Tarrant, Beams, Swan, Goldsack.
BEST: Sydney: Kennedy, O'Keefe, McVeigh, Goodes, Hannebery, Jetta. Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, O'Brien, Cloke, Reid.
INJURIES: Sydney: Richards (ankle).
UMPIRES: Stevic, Meredith, Rosebury.
CROWD: 57,156 at ANZ Stadium.
AS COLLINGWOOD fell to a season-ending defeat against Sydney last night, Nick Maxwell could feel nothing but devastation as he watched events unfold at ANZ Stadium.
The Collingwood skipper could only look on because he was serving the second week of a two-match suspension. ''It's extremely disappointing. I don't know how much of an impact I would have had, but I am never going to know and I am going to have to live with that,'' he said as his teammates consoled themselves in the change rooms.
''I am just devastated that I could not have some impact in the last two weeks.''
Stand-in captain Scott Pendlebury said the Magpies' lack of outside run hurt as the Swans strode to a 26-point win and a berth in the grand final - their third in eight years. ''It's just a hollow feeling,'' he said.
The Magpies had lacked run, cohesion and, it appeared, even inspiration to trail by seven goals late into the third term. To that point they had just three goals.
But with two majors on the cusp of three-quarter-time and the first two of the final term, the margin was cut to 20 points. Suddenly, it was game on.
However, as the Swans have done so many times through the season, they simply wore down their opponents. When Craig Bird answered with a well-timed goal 13 minutes into the final term, the result was settled.
The Swans have had the stingiest defence in the business this season and this would bankroll last night's win, and a fine celebration for Jude Bolton in his 300th match. Fittingly, his second goal was the Swans' final of the night.
The Swans close down a contest as well as any side and continually stopped the likes of Dane Swan, Dale Thomas and Sharrod Wellingham from finding space. Dayne Beams and Pendlebury were typically tough at the clearances but the outside run was missing.
With no room to move, the air was squeezed out of the Magpies' season and a mini-era appeared over.
Indeed, had the Swans not botched several easy shots, the result would have been greater.
Conversely, the damaging form of Adam Goodes, who has lifted in the finals, Jarrad McVeigh and Josh Kennedy was pivotal for the Swans.
That trio, along with the likes of Lewis Jetta and Ryan O'Keefe, found uncontested possessions at will and hurt the Magpies. In some ways, this was the tale of the tape.
When the Magpies did have the ball, too often they bombed it long, looking for Travis Cloke, who was outnumbered by two or three opponents on occasions but troubled Heath Grundy when left one out. That Buckley refused to man up Rhyce Shaw or Marty Mattner through the first half did not help Cloke.
The bustling forward worked hard, booted three goals but had little support. He must now decide whether to sign a new contract or look elsewhere.
Chris Dawes, his right knee heavily bandaged, scuttled suggestions he would be a late withdrawal and took to the field. He battled hard, as a forward and when giving an overworked Darren Jolly a spell in the ruck, but could not do what his mind was telling him.
A forward line also featuring Tyson Goldsack, Jarryd Blair and Alex Fasolo simply lacked punch. Coach Nathan Buckley refused to make changes up until three-quarter-time, even when the lead slipped out to seven goals.
The two that came in the third term against the flow of play were through defender Chris Tarrant, in what was his last match, and a 50-metre bomb on the siren from Swan.
In what at times was a dour affair, Jetta provided two of the more memorable moments of the night. The first was his exhilarating fast-break goal in the first term. He dashed away with ball in hand from Nathan Brown at half-back, took three bounces and kicked truly from the goal square.
The second was another goal, this time a clever banana from a left half-forward flank in the third term that sent the Swans well on their way to victory.
Sydney had its biggest opening quarter against the Pies since Tony Lockett's 1300th goal a decade ago. The Swans were up by 20 points at the first change but the margin could have been bigger, with the Swans missing five shots at goal. Still, the red-and-white brigade weren’t complaining. The Swans were enjoying their first quarter-time lead against the Pies in 11 games, looking set to break their losing streak.
GOOD LUCK COMES IN THREES
The look on John Longmire's face halfway through the second quarter said it all. Josh Kennedy marked strongly 30metres out from goal. It had been almost 13minutes since either team had kicked a major and the Swan looked set to extend Sydney's lead to 28 points. Kennedy fumbled a decision to play on; the Pies turned it over and Kennedy was quick to get his paws on the ball again, but he missed for a behind. After trapping the ball in the middle, Kennedy took possession again and this time sent the ball to Goodes who finally put a major on the board.
The score review system hasn't been too kind to Collingwood in the past two weeks. It overruled a goal from Andy Krakouer last week, then at the start of the third quarter last night, the field umpire called on his fourth eye upstairs again. The Pies were being dominated by the Swans, when Alan Toovey managed to push the ball through Collingwood’s goal. The goal umpire paid the shot, but the field umpire intervened and the review showed the ball coming off Toovey’s knee, thus a point.
Quarter by quarter
The Pies struggled to get the ball past centre half-forward with the Swans seemingly being able to anticipate their every move. Sydney dominated in the scoring shots, but not everything was so rosy by the first change: key Swan defender Richards limped off the field halfway through the quarter after crashing with teammate Malceski and Pie Alex Fasolo. He didn’t return until the second quarter, with doctors testing his left knee on the boundary line.
Sydney by 20 points
Collingwood scored a much-needed goal early, thanks to Cloke. But the Swans fired back with Kennedy scoring his second major. It was the last goal from both sides for about 13minutes. Sydney had the edge in the arm wrestle, trapping Collingwood with its predictable play. Goodes broke the drought to extend Sydney's lead to 28 points and the Pies failed to capitalise on scoring shots from Pendlebury, Johnson and Cloke.
Sydney by 27 points
Sydney had the half it was hoping for, but for accuracy. It was the misses that had kept Collingwood in it. The trend looked set to continue. Reid missed a shot in the opening minutes. The Pies then conceded a behind. It was a fierce battle, which began to take its toll. Sinclair was substituted halfway through the term. Sydney kept the upper hand and Jetta kicked his third goal, the same total as the Maggies. In the last minute the Pies fired two goals to keep their grand final hopes alive.
Sydney by 30 points
The Pies capitalised on their new-found rhythm, playing on quickly and finding targets inside 50. Cloke and Goldsack scored majors in the first three minutes, slashing Sydney's lead back to 20 points. The Swans' feathers began to ruffle but they persisted. With five minutes remaining Johnson scored his first major for the year, but just as quickly 300-gamer Bolton kicked his second. Beams and Fasolo scored two late goals for a desperate Pies, but it was too little too late.
Sydney wins by 26 points