COLLINGWOOD’S rich depth of talent continued to shine in its sizzling 115-point win over Casey Scorpions in a “David versus Goliath” Second Elimination Final at TEAC Oval.
While reigning premier North Ballarat has powered its way through to a preliminary final after defeating Port Melbourne by 48-points at Eureka Stadium.
The Magpies have several guns pushing hard for an AFL finals berth with midfielders Danny Stanley (34 disposals and four goals) and Ryan Cook (34 disposals) leading the way.
Brad Dick was at his elusive best with five goals with coach Gavin Brown full of praise for the livewire’s performance.
“He was really dangerous as we know he can be and he worked really hard to get to those spots,” Brown said.
Cameron Wood was also prolific in the hit-outs while adding a defensive side to his game.
“He really gave himself a chance for next week,” Brown said.
“I thought the defensive side of his game, his competing and his ruck work and he got around the ground pretty well.”
Rookie Jarryd Blair (33 touches) was also dynamic in the clinches along with Magpies VFL captain Damien Peverill.
The lop-sided scoreboard reading 26.21 (177) to 9.8 (62) was almost half-expected in the lead-up to this contest considering what Scorpions coach Peter German termed it as “David versus Goliath” battle.
It was one of the VFL finals’ biggest ever mis-matches in terms of talent with Casey having just three Melbourne-listed players while Collingwood had 21 plus ex-Bomber Peverill.
Casey had 13 Demons eligible to play but 10 of them including Jack Watts (broken hand), Kyle Cheney (ankle) and Danny Hughes (hip) were forced out by Melbourne because of post-season operations and to give the young players enough time to gear up for their next pre-season.
German called on AFL Victoria to start and finish the VFL season earlier to give AFL teams an opportunity to ready themselves for next season without hurting their VFL affiliates.
“It just makes it tough for Melbourne to get any continuity with the start of next season, especially the young kids,” German said.
“I’ve suggested that the finals should have started two or three weeks ago so you’re not putting some teams like us who are with an AFL club preparing blokes for next year.”
German appeared shattered after his sixth-placed team’s most demoralising loss of the season.
He would be filthy knowing just six weeks ago, the Scorpions were eyeing off a top two spot.
“If I knew that was going to be the story of the day, you’d actually rather not make the finals because I just think it really done some harm to our footy club today,” he said.
He said his young team were simply “punching out of their weight division” and that at least 12 of the players weren’t up to playing senior VFL football yet.
The Scorpions were hardly in the game with Wood dominating the hit-outs, the Pies’ midfield brigade dominating the stoppages, and Dick showing polish and class up forward.
Casey’s only fight was in the second term when Michael Newton kicked back-to-back goals to reduce the deficit to 33 points and James Wall trickled through another to edge it back to 27.
But silky-skilled Magpie Johnny Bennell snapped truly to extend the lead to 35 points at the main break before a clinic in the second half.
Evan Panozza and Shane Valenti were gallant for the Scorpions.
NORTH BALLARAT were far too polished for Port Melbourne with Cruize Garlett and Daniel Feery leading the Roosters to a 15.8 (98) to 6.14 (50) win for Tom Roach’s 100th game for the club.
The reigning premier’s class and skill shone with North Melbourne’s Corey Jones, who impressed with three goals while looking for a new football home next season.
Stevie Dinnell also booted three, while Chris Cain was the most dangerous for the Borough with two goals.
Roosters general manager Marg Richards said there were no injuries and the team was looking forward to the week’s break.
NORTHERN Bullants have become the competition’s sleeping giants after awakening from a 29-point upset win over Williamstown to earn a shock preliminary final berth in the qualifying final.
While, Box Hill Hawks overcome an early James Podsiadly onslaught to win comfortably against Geelong by 34 points in the first elimination final and set up a semi-final berth against Port Melbourne on Sunday.
However, the Bullants have crept from fourth to third and now to a preliminary final in the past fortnight with returns to come from Cameron Cloke, Jeff Garlett and Shaun Grigg to add further seasoned bodies to their September mix.
“I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m surprised (with the result) but we knew it was going to be a tough game with Willy at home,” Teague said.
“The way we’ve played over the last eight weeks, I came in quietly confident that if we can play the game to our terms and play to our structures that we’d be in with a real show and our boys delivered as well as they have all year and it’s the time you want to be playing your best footy,” he said.
Teague said the Bullants now have a genuine crack at the flag after the 11.12 (78) to 6.13 (49) win.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance to now…we’ve still got to be able to deliver the next time we step out on to the field,” he said.
Conversely, Williamstown has continued to suffer the finals curse that has haunted it in recent times.
The second best team in the competition for the home and away season now faces a cut throat semi final against the in-form Collingwood on Saturday after being torn to shreds on its home turf.
“It’s very disappointing and very frustrating for a team to come out and do what they did to Port Melbourne last week and then go out like that today,” Gotch said.
The Bullants strangled the Seagulls forward line with Stephen Browne and Adam Hartlett curbing the usually dangerous forward Matt Little and Patrick Rose.
David Ellard (33 touches), Jordan Bannister (23) and Adam Bentick (22) were brilliant in the stoppages for the Bullants.
Tim Callan was Williamstown’s best after notching 32 disposals to put his hand up for a recall for the Western Bulldogs semi-final clash against the Brisbane Lions.
“He’d be one in the mix you’d think based on that,” Gotch said.
BOX HILL HAWKS have unveiled their x-factor the finals series with Hawthorn forward Mark Williams qualifying for VFL finals and adding polish to the Hawks’ 17.19 (121) to 13.9 (87) win yesterday.
Williams had 13 disposals and his only goal came half way through the final term but created plenty with run from half back in the second term.
“What he brings is not only a quality player but also some leadership around the young blokes and that’s exciting,” Hawks coach Brendon Bolton said.
Despite Podsiadly looking lively with the first three goals of the match, the Hawks settled after quarter time with Tim Walsh having a superb game in the ruck with Sam Iles (24 touches) and Ed Curnow (23) not doing any harm for their hopeful returns to AFL lists.
The Hawks will regain Steve Kenna for the clash against the Borough, but Bolton said Stuart Dew had officially hung up the boots and won’t play despite qualifying.
“Most importantly our tackle pressure I thought was outstanding and probably the best we’ve had for a long time,” Bolton said.
Ryan Gamble (22) and Kane Tenace (22) were among the Cats best.
GEELONG ruckman Shane Mumford remains “in the mix” for a return to the Cats in either the preliminary or grand final after a dominant display in the VFL yesterday.
Despite Brad Ottens and Mark Blake tipping Mumford out of the team in September, Cats VFL coach Dale Amos said Mumford is still in frame for selection in what has become a ruck dilemma at the Cattery.
“I think you know what you’re going to get with Shane,” Amos said.
“The balancing act from an AFL point of view is that he probably gives you a little more value around the ground than (Mark) Blake but Blake gives you some quality use in the ruck.”
“He needs to keep himself focused on bigger and better things. His finals preparation doesn’t finish today,” he said.
Mumford, who played 18 of 22 matches for the Cats this season, had 23 hit-outs and 13 disposals with Geelong coach Mark Thompson watching on.
By Brent Diamond