Collingwood players celebrate against the Tigers. Picture: Mark Stewart
Collingwood players celebrate against the Tigers. Picture: Mark Stewart

Robbo: Is this Collingwood’s greatest story?

IT was the perfect storm.

It might even be the most perfect half of football delivered under Nathan Buckley.

But there's no might about this - Collingwood is in the Grand Final.

The Magpies led by 44 points at halftime, a bogey margin if you fancy 1970 history, but this time they didn't yield.

It was a withering, stunning and ferocious first 60 minutes.

The Magpies kicked 10 goals to Richmond's two and made the reigning premier look sloppy and jumpy - something no team has been able to do to the Tigers for ­almost a season and a half.

It's an extraordinary result after an extraordinary season.

What odds of this happening 12 months ago - Buckley to coach Collingwood, into Collingwood throttling Richmond in a preliminary final, into a Texan and a drink driver making a mess of the best ­defence in the competition?

You could've written your own ticket.

Much will be said and written about Buckley this week and the depth of those accolades are well deserved.

So, too, for president Eddie McGuire for punting on the coach when others suggested they shouldn't.

A premiership under Buckley, arguably the club's greatest player, may well be Collingwood's greatest story.

Of course, that will all play out next weekend.

 

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley hugs skipper Scott Pendlebury after Collingwood’s win. Picture: Michael Klein
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley hugs skipper Scott Pendlebury after Collingwood’s win. Picture: Michael Klein

 

 

Friday night was about Richmond - and Collingwood's players giving it to Richmond.

It was about Mason Cox kicking three consecutive goals in the second quarter, in front of mum and dad, who ­arrived on Thursday, and in front of an adoring crowd.

Cox played the best game of his short career.

No more iron hands, no more being pushed under the ball, no more a liability.

He took Collingwood from 23 points to 41 in 10 minutes.

If Buckley is the best story at Collingwood, this bloke isn't far behind.

 

Steele Sidebottom (left) and Brody Mihocek post game. Picture: Getty Images
Steele Sidebottom (left) and Brody Mihocek post game. Picture: Getty Images

His opponent, David Astbury, would be desperately disappointed … crook before the game, he would be sicker now.

It was about Jordan De Goey, who had Rance - may­be the best defender in the AFL - for three quarters and was too quick offoot and too slick of mind in kicking four goals.

He's a genuine matchwinner and a much-loved figure among his club's fans.

 

Mason Cox marks in front of David Astbury. Picture: Mark Stewart
Mason Cox marks in front of David Astbury. Picture: Mark Stewart

 

 

It was about Jack Crisp, who was near best afield at halftime.

He had 16 touches and two goals from a back flank and surely had his opponents wondering why no one would be accountable forhim.

It was about Steele Sidebottom - the Tigers don't tag and they have to live with that.

Sidebottom had the most disposals in the preliminary final and more importantly won them when Collingwood needed him with the ball.

He mesmerised the Tigers in the first half and was the steadier in the second.

It was about Brodie Grundy, who schooled Toby Nankervis in the air and on the ground, so much so, that the big Magpie had 56 hit-outs.

 

 

Mason Cox celebrates a goal for the Magpies. Picture: Alex Coppel
Mason Cox celebrates a goal for the Magpies. Picture: Alex Coppel

In the second quarter, when the game exploded, Grundy had six hit-outs to advantage to Richmond's zero.

It was about Tom Langdon once again dominating down back; it was about Travis Varcoe being clean and creative; it was about Chris Mayne quelling Kane Lambert; it was about Taylor Adams cracking in for 36 touches and nine inside 50s; it was aboutBrayden Sier setting the tone in the first term.

 

Magpies president Eddie McGuire kisses AFL chief Gillon McLachlan. Picture: AFL Media
Magpies president Eddie McGuire kisses AFL chief Gillon McLachlan. Picture: AFL Media

 

 

Richmond was dysfunctional all over the ground, outside of Jack Riewoldt forward, Trent Cotchin in the middle and Dylan Grimes, who wasn't beaten again down back.

Dustin Martin was a liability, and the faith in the champ was too strong for the fears over his corkie.

He visited the hyperbaric chamber in the days leading up to the match and was at Brighton Sea Baths on Friday still endeavouring to get enough movement back into his leg.

He told teammates he was fine, but clearly he wasn't, and it's why he played plenty of time as the deepest forward.

Jack Crisp was brilliant for the Magpies. Picture: Mark Stewart
Jack Crisp was brilliant for the Magpies. Picture: Mark Stewart

The Tigers had problems everywhere - Jason Castagna, Josh Caddy, Jack Graham, Shane Edwards, Kamdyn McIntosh, Shaun Griggand Nankervis were non factors.

Not so the Magpies.

They played, well, like Richmond - they pressured the ball carrier, outnumbered at contest, intercepted marks and stuck tackles, incessantly so in the first half.

If football was so easy, you'd demand them to do it all again and if they did, the premiership would be a cakewalk.

The heart says Melbourne and the head says West Coast, but whoever it is, they'd want to bring a better game than Richmond did.

 

Collingwood players celebrate a late goal against Richmond. Picture: Getty Images
Collingwood players celebrate a late goal against Richmond. Picture: Getty Images

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