Geelong and Collingwood went blow for blow in what was truly a heavyweight encounter on Saturday evening.
The battle between the Cats and Pies went down to the wire with the minor premiers landing the knockout blow in the dying stages.
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Collingwood’s bread and butter all season long has been their ability to emerge victorious in close encounters, but on Saturday it wasn’t to be.
They’ve pulled rabbits out of the hat over and over again, but when the game was on the line the Cats showed why they’ve been the team to beat.
In the game-winning passage of play that lasted 40 seconds, the Cats not only ripped the heart out of Pies fans, they exposed how poorly executed the Pies were when it mattered.
With the scores tied up at 72-all, the Pies surged forward inside their own 50 but a Josh Daicos snap sailed out on the full and stopped the clock with two minutes to play.
From there, the Cats launched and caught the Pies lacking.
Mark Blicavs looked down the ground as the Pies attempted to get set up between their own 50 and the wing.
The ball hit the deck and like it had all game long it became a slugfest to gain possession of the footy. Through Tom Stewart the Cats escaped as he poked a kick to Cam Guthrie.
Guthrie looked to go instantly as he handballed to Mitch Duncan, but sold him into trouble. Duncan stopped and turned back, giving the footy back to Guthrie who found a breaking Jeremy Cameron on the outer wing.
As this point, Collingwood needed a miracle. They’d been opened right up as Cameron tracked the ball towards the boundary line with Brayden Maynard trying to close the gap.
But it was in the middle of the ground where the trouble was unfolding with Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom all on his own with Geelong’s Gary Rohan streaking into an empty 50.
Rohan can scorch the turf and if he gets even an inch of distance on you, you’re not going to close him down.
Sidebottom and the Pies had been exposed defensively at the biggest moment of the biggest finals game this weekend.
Cameron wheeled onto his left and launched inside 50 where Sidebottom looked to have conceded his fate as Rohan waited for the ball to fall into his arms.
Rohan completely missed the footy, but it didn’t matter as he sprinted after it towards goal where Max Holmes, closely in tow behind Sidebottom through the middle of the ground, was waiting all alone.
The gruelling contest had left the Pies out on their feet and when they needed to lock the ball inside their half, their defensive structure fell apart and the Cats took advantage.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Pies and no doubt that final goalscoring passage will be shown time and again to the playing group before they take on Fremantle at the MCG.