TWO AFL powerhouses look to add their second premierships of the 21st century at the MCG today.
Collingwood is eyeing its first premiership since 2010 while the West Coast Eagles haven’t captured the flag since 2006.
The decider is the seventh consecutive grand final pitting a Melbourne-based team against a non-Victorian club — and Victorian clubs have won the past five.
Eagles lead after runner blunder
YEO GOES BANG!
— AFL (@AFL) September 29, 2018
West Coast took its first lead since the opening quarter after a huge blunder from Collingwood runner Alex Woodward cost the Pies.
Woodward got tangled up with Magpies youngster Jaidyn Stephenson as Taylor Adams attempted to hit him with a pin-point pass in the back half.
Woodward’s block allowed Eagles midfielder Elliott Yeo to intercept the ball and he nailed a running goal to put West Coast up by two points.
It continued a back-and-forth third quarter in which neither team could break free.
West Coast had kicked the last three goals of the game and was within six points after a Josh Kennedy set shot just after halftime.
But Mason Cox — who regularly provided a contest for Collingwood in the first half but didn’t do much else — answered for the Magpies with his first goal of the game.
Tom Langdon continued his starring role in defence for Collingwood with back to back intercept marks but the Eagles’ relentless pressure resulted in a goal to Jamie Cripps.
The see-sawing battle continued as Taylor Adams sliced the Eagles defence and delivered a cool finish but after a quiet first half Jack Darling started marking everything and his first major brought it back to a solitary goal.
Eagles fight back after early flop
Footy fans hoping for an evenly-matched finish to the season were up in arms after Collingwood kicked the first five goals of the grand final.
The Magpies played almost-perfect footy in the opening 20 minutes of the game to blow the Eagles out of the water.
Some feared the game was already over.
— David Penrose (@David_Penrose) September 29, 2018
I’m getting flashbacks to the Sydney vs Hawthorn #AFLGF in 2014
— Melanie Dinjaski (@MelanieDinjaski) September 29, 2018
West Coast kicked the last two goals of the opening term to close the margin to 17 points at quarter time and kept Collingwood off the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes of the second.
But the Eagles failed to kick a goal themselves as scoring completely dried up — until Jordan De Goey stepped up and delivered.
After curling home a brilliant snap in the first, the burgeoning superstar slammed home one from outside 50m to break the deadlock and put the Pies up by 23 points.
AFL: Jordan De Goey showed why he was many people’s Norm Smith tip, with an unbelievable goal in the opening term of the Grand Final.
But the Eagles had the better of the time-on period for the second quarter in a row, adding goals through Mark Hutchings and Luke Shuey to close within two goals at halftime.
Liam Ryan delivered a savage bump to Brayden Maynard and momentum began to swing.
“It’s perfectly poised this grand final,” Seven commentator Bruce McAvaney said.
Shuey has been exceptional with 18 disposals and a goal, while Dom Sheed (20 disposals) and defenders Shannon Hurn and Tom Barrass have been steady.
Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams and Brodie Grundy have been prolific for Collingwood.
Earlier, Travis Varcoe provided a heartwarming moment with the opening goal. The death of Varcoe’s sister Maggie after she sustained a head injury in a women’s football grand final has provided inspiration during the Magpies’ run to the big dance.
Varcoe, who has Maggie’s name written on his arm today, broke free inside 50m and nailed a nice running goal to give Collingwood the early edge.
— Adam White (@White_Adam) September 29, 2018
— Alex Fair (@AJFair85) September 29, 2018
But it wasn’t long until Rising Star winner Jaidyn Stephenson stole the spotlight.
The 19-year-old ran rings around the Eagles defence to kick back-to-back goals and set the Magpies on the path to victory.
The party continued as De Goey produced a moment of magic in the pocket before Will Hoskin-Elliott made it five goals without reply from a set shot.
It took a slice of luck for the Eagles to get on the board as Willie Rioli accidentally brushed the ball with his boot on the goal line to score a six-pointer.
Josh Kennedy atoned for an early miss by adding another deep in time-on to give West Coast life at the first break.
Wind tears Collingwood banner apart
The Magpies suffered the most embarrassing entrance to the MCG on Grand Final day in a banner blooper of epic proportions.
As they emerged from the tunnel for a moment they’d dreamt of their entire lives, the players were greeted with a banner that was in tatters after the wind wrought havoc.
Unsure how to proceed, the Collingwood squad ended up just wandering through a wide-open gap between the two supporting poles in comical circumstances.
The poor old Magpie cheersquad was in tears and coach Nathan Buckley was good enough to offer his comfort ahead of the biggest moment of his coaching life.
Some were worried it was an omen, but Collingwood — which forged a reputation for funny banners this season — laughed it off.
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) September 29, 2018