AFL Finals 2018: West Coast edges Collingwood in a classic

Jack Darling played a big part in the Eagles' final-quarter revival.

Jack Darling played a big part in the Eagles' final-quarter revival. Photo: Getty

It was one of the best games of AFL football you could hope to see, the West Coast Eagles emerging 16-point winners over Collingwood in a classic first final at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

For much of the evening Collingwood looked like it had all the goods – they were running the Eagles off their feet and the home side was barely hanging on as they limped to three-quarter time 10 points down.

But cometh the hour, cometh the men – and West Coast’s twin towers of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling, so brilliantly contained for most of the night, booted three goals between them in the final term to deliver a 12.14 (86) to 10.10 (70) win in front of 59,585 people.

The only sour note for the home side was what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury to underrated defender Brad Sheppard, who cut a forlorn figure on the bench after going off early.

Collingwood was heroic in defeat, throwing everything at the home side, but in the end it was for naught – the Pies returning home to lick their wounds ahead of a cutthroat clash with a rampaging GWS next weekend.

The win earned the Eagles a week off and a home preliminary final, against the winner of next weekend’s clash between Hawthorn and Melbourne.

Tyson Goldsack’s inclusion, just six months after a knee reconstruction, raised eyebrows but he was well worth it – keeping Kennedy to just two touches to half-time in a brilliant defensive display.

The Eagles looked the better side early on, kicking the opening three goals but Magpie hearts were warmed towards the end of the first term when Travis Varcoe slotted a beauty on the run from the boundary.

Varcoe sister’s Margaret Varcoe died just over a week ago after she suffered an accidental head knock during a football match in Adelaide, and the sides paid tribute to her with a moment’s silence pre-match.

Collingwood’s running brigade clicked into gear in the second quarter, led by a majestic Steele Sidebottom who was in danger of leather poisoning.

They booted six goals to the Eagles three, taking a three-point lead into the long break.

The third quarter was as keenly fought as matter versus anti-matter – it took until the 17-minute mark for the first goal when Taylor Adams put the Pies further in front.

Varcoe produced another magical moment in the third term when he chased down Luke Shuey, who was in full flight and looking to drive the Eagles forward.

The resulting thrust from the Pies teed up a goal from Josh Thomas.

Collingwood had all the momentum heading into the last quarter, but a big goal from Kennedy trimmed the margin, and when Darling snapped one, the home side was somehow back in front.

Jordan de Goey put the Pies back ahead but a sublime Lewis Jetta snap and a big mark and goal from Darling had the Eagles out by 10 before Jack Redden extended the margin on the siren.

Kennedy and Darling finished with two goals apiece for the Eagles, as did livewire forward Liam Ryan who was good early and again in the final quarter.

Elliott Yeo and Redden were the key ball winners for West Coast, racking up 36 and 32 touches respectively.

Adams, De Goey and Brody Mihocek kicked two each for Collingwood, while Sidebottom had 27 possessions.

Swans pitiful against rampant Giants

Earlier, GWS overcame the loss of gun midfielder Josh Kelly with a knee injury to end Sydney’s season with a 49-point win at the SCG.

With Swans star Lance Franklin hampered by injury and shut out of the game by Giants defender Phil Davis, GWS ran over the top of their hosts from midway through the second quarter to post a 10.19 (79) to 4.6 (30) win.

The only black spot came when Kelly went off with a knee injury late in the first term and despite trying desperately to get back on, he was ruled out for the remainder of the match and must be in doubt for next week’s semi-final against the Pies at the MCG.

Toby Greene was electric for the Giants, finishing with 27 disposals and three goals, but he may come under scrutiny for a high kick onto Swan Nic Newman’s chest.

It was a limp effort from the Swans which saw their record in finals since the 2012 premiership slip to six wins and nine losses.

Next week’s finals:

Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG, with the winner to play West Coast in a preliminary final.

Collingwood v GWS at the MCG, with the winner to play Richmond in a preliminary final.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.