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Pies in Prelims

Sam Gastin  September 21, 2017 12:00 PM

Finals Moments: Prelim Power Relive Collingwood's 44-point win over Port Adelaide in the 2003 Preliminary Final, on this day 14 years ago.

The two biggest games of the AFL season will take place at the Adelaide Oval and MCG respectively this weekend as Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond and Greater Western Sydney fight for a place in the Grand Final.

Preliminary finals are fraught with danger. Lose, and the dream of making the last Saturday in September falls agonisingly short. Win, and a premiership is just four quarters away.

While we won’t be taking part in prelim proceedings this week, now seems like a better time than any to take a look back at some of our biggest outings in the penultimate weekend of the AFL season.

2011 Preliminary Final
Collingwood 10.8 (68) def. Hawthorn 9.11 (65)

THE MATCH – Both sides entered the final with minor blemishes clouding what had otherwise been ultra-impressive seasons. For Collingwood, a 96-point loss to Geelong in the final round of the home and away season was a hiccup few expected after a dominant 2011 campaign. Hawthorn had finished third on the ladder, but was forced to play an extra final after also losing to the Cats in the first Qualifying Final. The result was a blockbuster MCG crowd of 87,112 watching a do-or-die Preliminary Final clash. Both teams had their chances and Hawthorn had a 17-point lead with Dayne Beams subbed out of the game early in the third quarter. Collingwood’s talls prevailed as Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes stretched the Hawks defence with two goals each in the second half.

THE MAN – Take your pick between two warriors who led Collingwood’s onballers season on season in the late-2000s. Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan were prolific as two star-studded midfields collided at the MCG. Three days shy of winning his Brownlow Medal, Swan had nine clearances and kicked a crucial fourth quarter goal in a dominant 32-possesion showing.

THE MOMENT – After struggling to find success in seven years at St Kilda, Luke Ball had lost just six games in his first two seasons in Black and White. On this occasion, another victory was his for the taking. The Magpies were four points down, with three minutes left on the clock when Ball perfectly roved a throw-in in the forward pocket. He snapped truly, sending the MCG in chaos. There’s no way you could have forgotten the moment. If you have, watch below and enjoy all over again.

2007 Preliminary Final
Collingwood 13.9 (87) def. by Geelong 13.14 (92)

THE MATCH – Collingwood and Geelong were treated to the biggest crowd the Magpies had played in front of since the 1990 Grand Final for this prelim at the MCG. 98,002 fans packed into the MCG as the Pies came in underdogs against a Geelong team which had shown dominance throughout the season. Preparations for the game couldn’t have contrasted more. While the Magpies were fighting for every inch in an extra-time Semi Final thriller against West Coast, the Cats were preparing for a game against North Melbourne they would go on to win by a whopping 106 points. Geelong should have won this Preliminary Final with ease, but Mick Malthouse and his men had other ideas. The Cats simply couldn’t get away from a determined Collingwood outfit. A five-point margin at half time was replicated again at the last change as the Pies hung on for dear life. And then just when it looked all over, we struck again, thanks to goals from Travis Cloke and Alan Didak.

THE MAN – One from left-field. With Collingwood’s midfield shadowed by the dominance of Gary Ablett Jnr and co, the defensive prowess of James Clement, Nick Maxwell and Heath Shaw kept the Magpies in the contest. At 31 and in his 230th AFL game, Clement was huge down back. The West Australian had 21 touches, but also laid seven tackles and had 10 rebound 50s as the cool head in crisis. While the game didn’t provide the desired result, Clement walked away with head held high. He would never pull on the Black and White stripes again – retiring at the end of the 2007 season.

THE MOMENT – After kicked two goals the week prior, Paul Medhurst had just four disposals against the Cats. He more than made the kicks count. Three resulted in goals, with the last of the bunch giving Collingwood the breath of confidence it needed in the final minutes of play. With just over a minute left, the former Docker calmly slotted a set shot to once again cut the Geelong lead back to five points.


Paul Medhurst celebrates one of his three Preliminary Final goals. Image: AFL Photos.

2003 Preliminary Final
Collingwood 17.10 (112) def. Port Adelaide 9.14 (68)

THE MATCH – Two in-form teams met on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the MCG. Both had won nine of their last 10 games, with Port attempting to reach their first Grand Final in the club's AFL history and Collingwood desperately trying to overcome a heartbreaking loss to the Brisbane Lions in the season decider a year prior. With the MCG under construction, the Magpies’ impressed the 77,405 in the stands from go to woe. Paul Licuria was productive, Nathan Buckley led from the front, and Chris Tarrant proved the go-to target in a three goal showing. Inaccuracy cost the Power and Collingwood capitalised as an 11-point half time lead grew to 31 points at the final change.

THE MAN – After leading the Magpies’ to a Qualifying Final victory two weeks prior, Tarrant was once again a focal point deep in the Collingwood forward line. His 16 disposals resulted in three goals and marks – including four inside 50. The Prelim Final was the 11th time Tarrant kicked a bag of three goals or more in 2003, a season which was arguably his best in Black and White.

THE MOMENT – The only sour moment on what was otherwise a perfect day for the Magpies. Anthony Rocca was reported late in the first quarter for striking Port Adelaide ruckman Brendon Lade. What ensued was “the worst 24 hours” of Rocca’s life as he was given a two-match suspension and deemed unable to play in the 2003 Grand Final. Collingwood’s fight to have the decision overturned involved flying Lade back to Melbourne to help appeal the decision. It was unsuccessful, and the Magpies clearly missed Rocca’s presence against a strong Brisbane outfit the following week.


Chris Tarrant celebrates as Port's Nick Stevens looks for answers. Image: AFL Photos.