Ben Reid is chased by Geelong's James Podsiadly. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
COLLINGWOOD limped over the line of a thrilling grand final rematch last night, with Brownlow medallist Dane Swan straining a hamstring and All-Australian defender Ben Reid again suffering a quadriceps injury and being forced out of the game in the last quarter.
The Magpies were left with one man on the bench in the last quarter as Geelong, which had trailled all night, surged. But with two goals only seconds apart with only a minute to play, the Magpies were able to hold on by 12 points.
But the victory has come at a significant cost, with a "minor hamstring tear" for Swan and, more troubling, Reid re-injuring the same quadriceps muscle for the fifth time in six months and only weeks after returning to the side.
"By the time you get the final siren and you have the points, it is not really relief, it is a little bit of disappointment with the collateral damage, but we understand that that happens in any game of footy," said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said.
"You need to lick your wounds and see where the dust settles, so it is a little bit unfortunate but that, in the short term, does not override the pride that you feel for the players that were able to hold on and then find a bit extra when the game was on the line."
Buckley said Collingwood had already tried to ascertain the cause of Reid's repeat injury, and would do so again and review his rehabilitation program.
Adding concern for Collingwood, Scott Pendlebury had his lower left leg wrapped in ice at three-quarter time. Buckley said he had been "shocked" to see Pendlebury in ice, but the midfielder was fine after the game.
Pendlebury played out the game and kicked the goal with a minute to go that effectively iced the game.
The Cats wasted chances, kicking 5.12 for the second half, including 4.6 in the last quarter when they had 23 inside 50s to Collingwood's 10.
The Magpies recovered their lead when Alex Fasolo goaled after receiving a 50-metre penalty, with Josh Hunt tackling him as he shaped to play on after a mark.
Asked about the decision, Geelong coach Chris Scott said his instinct was that the decision was correct. "I'll have to have a good look at it, but my instinct is that it was a free kick. The rule's pretty clear: if a player plays on but the umpire hasn't called play on, it's not play on. Simple."
Scott said it was still possible for the Cats to make the top four, despite the defeat leaving them 4-4. "Well, it's mathematically possible. We play some good sides, particularly in the last half of the season, and that's going to be challenging. But we also have to take games away from those teams. That's a positive and that's the way we'll look at it."
Scott said of the factors that contributed to the loss: "Certainly missing shots [at goal] that we should kick was pretty high up the list.
He said the Cats had dominated the inside-50s in the final quarter. "We felt confident we could win it, but could have, should have, would have. A minute-and-half to go . . . I don't think it's fair on the opposition to say we should have won it. We were supremely confident in the box; I think the boys were as well. But it just didn't go our way. We lost the crucial contest at the wrong time."
Matthew Scarlett was a late withdrawal from the Cats' side, replaced by Billie Smedts.