Saturday 21 September 2019
GIANTS v Collingwood
The GIANTS recovered from a late-season form slump to belt the Bulldogs in an elimination final at GIANTS Stadium. From there it was onto the Gabba, where Brent Daniels kicked a running banana goal to grab a three-point lead with three minutes to go and the team held on grimly for a tough win and a spot in the preliminary finals. The win over the Lions was the club’s first finals victory on the road. “We have a seven-day break, we jump on a plane more than any other footy club. We’re used to going back-to-back road trips and obviously it’s a back-to-back road trip this week against the Pies,” coach Leon Cameron said. “I’m confident our guys will do everything off the field to get right. We go to the MCG full of confidence. We’ve won our first two finals but the preliminary finals are the hardest game to win.” Toby Greene was suspended for a week after the semi-final game and Stephen Coniglio was deemed not quite ready to return from his long-term knee injury, while Lachie Whitfield was rushed into hospital during the week leading up to the preliminary final for surgery to remove his appendix. Lachie Keeffe came to take on his old team, while Bobby Hill took Greene’s place in the forward line.
B: Phil Davis, Heath Shaw, Sam Taylor
HB: Aidan Corr, Nick Haynes, Zac Williams
C: Tim Taranto, Josh Kelly, Jeremy Finlayson
HF: Lachie Keeffe, Ian Hill, Harry Perryman
FF: Brent Daniels, Jeremy Cameron, Matt de Boer
Foll: Shane Mumford, Sam Reid, Jacob Hopper
Inter: Adam Tomlinson, Harry Himmelberg, Daniel Lloyd, Adam Kennedy
Collingwood kicked the first goal but the GIANTS had plenty of the ball early, with the likes of Taranto, Hopper, Kelly and defender-turned-midfielder Williams getting their hands on the ball and the GIANTS keeping the ball inside 50 without getting much reward for it until Finlayson kicked the team’s first goal of the day from a step inside the 50 metre line. Collingwood scored again via Jaidyn Stephenson, the rain started to tumble and the GIANTS had a problem on their hands when Davis hobbled off with an injured calf midway through the term. But with the likes of Taylor, Haynes, Corr and Shaw defending well - and De Boer starting well in his job on Scott Pendlebury - they were well and truly in the game.
Quarter time: GIANTS 1.3 (9), Collingwood 2.0 (12)
Collingwood scored first again, from a Ben Reid mark and set shot right in front, but once again the GIANTS kept grinding away, taking charge of the contested possession and clearance counts without turning it into a score until Cameron slotted his first goal from the boundary line. There were some big efforts – a Davis tackle, a Haynes spoil, a Taylor intercept mark – but none more important than Lloyd’s touch on a Pendlebury snap. Pendlebury’s "goal", with five minutes to go, took Collingwood to an eight-point lead, but on review Lloyd’s small smother was recognised, and the ball brought back for a kick-in.
Half-time: GIANTS 2.5 (17), Collingwood 3.2 (20)
The game broke right open in the third term, and it was all orange and charcoal. A Daniels snap four minutes in gave the GIANTS the lead, and they kicked another five for the term to take a 26-point lead, in the rain, into the final quarter. Williams’ gathered a wet ground ball at pace, and snapped his first goal and Taranto pounced on another loose ball to score before Finlayson got rid of Brodie Grundy in a ruck contest, grabbed the ball and screwed through his second goal. When Cameron snuck away from Darcy Moore to mark in space 30 metres out and kick his second for the game, the GIANTS found themselves in the box seat.
Three quarter time: GIANTS 7.7 (49), Collingwood 5.5 (23)
A long Cameron set shot from 45 metres out stretched the margin to 32-points four minutes in. That goal – Cameron’s third – made it seven in a row for the GIANTS, but Collingwood was not done with. From there, the Magpies quickly worked their way back into the game. The Pies kicked their first goal in more than an hour through Stephenson and cut the margin to 20 points with 15 minutes left on the clock after Josh Thomas after the score reviewer decided Keeffe’s hand didn’t smother his shot off the boot. Chris Mayne snapped their third goal in a row and Thomas kicked another, before a Mayne set shot with five minutes to go was touched on the line by Taylor. The battle was on: five minutes of stoppages and surge kicks, tackles, chases bumps and hits, until the siren sounded with the GIANTS four points in front and headed for the club’s first ever AFL Grand Final.
Final score: GIANTS 8.6 (56) to 7.10 (52)
3: Jeremy Cameron goals
10: Zac Williams clearances
30: Nick Haynes disposals
88: Team tackles
1: Shane Mumford sidesteps in the defensive goal square
The Lloyd touch
With five minutes left in the second quarter Collingwood moved eight points clear after Pendlebury snapped out of a stoppage to kick his first goal of the game. Or did he? As the players headed off to set up for the next centre bounce the replay showed Lloyd had got his right hand to the ball just as it flew off the Magpie skipper’s left boot, a small but desperate smother effort that would come to prove very important in the next hour and a bit.
The Daniels goal
There were four minutes gone in the second term when Cameron got the ball to ground in a one-on-one contest at half-forward. The ball spilled to Hopper, who got it back across to Cameron, who handballed over the head of Brayden Maynard toward the boundary line, where Hill got to it just before it went over. Hill handballed up to Daniels, who passed it on quickly to Hopper, got it straight back, took a couple of quick steps and snapped a brilliant goal from the pocket, putting the GIANTS in front.
The Taylor elbow
With five minutes left in the game, Collingwood was coming. The Pies had kicked three goals in a row when Mayne lined up to make it four, and level the scores. His shot from 45 metres was straight, but thankfully Taylor was there alongside Mumford on the goal line. The young defender got his right arm clear, and up; the ball scraped his elbow on its way over the line and the GIANTS had five points’ worth of breathing room.
The Mumford sidestep
The GIANTS were desperately defending a four-point lead when Collingwood pumped the ball into their goal square with 1:16 left on the clock. Shaw trapped the ball and Mumford grabbed it out of the ruck at the subsequent throw-up contest at the top of the square, stepping casually around Pendlebury like a graceful midfielder, then pumping the ball back out of trouble.
The Taylor spoil
The clock was ticking right down – 8 seconds, 7, 6 – when Brayden Maynard drove a long kick towards the goal square in a last-ditch effort for the Magpies. Taylor wondered later why he didn’t grab a mark instead of push the ball back into play but his spoil – made as he backed back towards goal, the ball falling into the hands of Lloyd – was enough to deny Collingwood a miracle finish and make sure it was the GIANTS who made it though to Grand Final Day.
Whitfield made it back, Greene came in, Coniglio ruled himself out and Davis made it through a last-minute fitness test to lead the team out, co-captain Callan Ward having missed most of the season after a knee reconstruction. But a brilliant week in the GIANTS’ young history ended badly with a huge loss to Richmond, who dominated the game after quarter-time and went on to win the club’s second flag in three years.