COLLINGWOOD are into their fourth preliminary final in a row after a tough and emotional 13-point win over West Coast at the MCG last night.
The Magpies will travel to meet Sydney at Homebush on Friday armed with the knowledge that not only have they beat the Swans 11 times on end dating back to 2005; the past seven times the teams met at the Olympic Stadium, Collingwood won.
It is a nice piece of history to have.
The margin ensured there would be less of a controversy over a video review which denied Andrew Krakouer a goal in the first quarter. Had the Magpies lost narrowly, it was bound to have caused a furore.
The goal, Collingwood's first of the night after a slow start, was given the all clear and the players were heading back to the centre when a field umpire called for the review. The replay suggested West Coast's Andrew Embley had taken the football over the line for a rushed behind but there was a possibility that a tiny part of the ball had not cleared the line. The review panel up in the umpires' box overruled the goal umpire's original decision, and it reverted to a rushed behind.
Collingwood found a way to win from four goals down (in the first quarter), and without a functional forward line. It may have further issues in the front half on Friday, with Chris Dawes hurting his right knee in the final quarter and limping to the finish. Dawes, who came back strapped up and hobbling, must be in doubt for the preliminary final, which is significant since he is the nominal back-up to Darren Jolly in the ruck.
Nathan Buckley's team drew only a single goal from a forward half player – Tyson Goldsack – in the match. Travis Cloke was well covered by Eric Mackenzie and goalless, as was Dawes. Krakouer could not manage one either. Nine of Collingwood's 10 goals came from midfielders, and it was one of those men, Dale Thomas, who ignited his team in the third quarter, responding to criticism of his poor game in the qualifying final.
Thomas escaped Embley to boot three goals in the opening seven minutes of the quarter – one on the lead from a nice pass by Alex Fasolo, one crumbed goal that put the Magpies in front for the first time, and one from a free kick for high contact. In a tight, defensive game, it was the period of play that proved pivotal, although West Coast came back in the final quarter to regain the lead momentarily.