COLLINGWOOD has secured a well-deserved minor premiership with a thumping 70-point win over Essendon at the MCG on Friday night.
Collingwood has sealed the minor premiership for the first time since 2011 in emphatic fashion after demolishing Essendon by 70 points at the MCG on Friday night.
After dropping three of the four games since all but being assured of a home qualifying final following the round 19 win over Port Adelaide, the Magpies put the game to bed by quarter-time and will now enter September with confidence after defeating their arch-rivals 16.5 (101) to 3.13 (31).
Six days after being embarrassed by 126 points by Greater Western Sydney in a mini elimination final, the Bombers were mathematically still alive in the finals race to start the night, but didn't turn up early and put their fans through another tortuous watch to end the season.
Collingwood kicked all eight goals in the first quarter, and the first 11 goals of the game, before the Bombers finally got on the board 50 minutes into the game.
After conceding 100 points in each of the past three weeks – after doing that only twice in the first 20 rounds and only twice in 2022 – a ruthless Collingwood banked a 35th win from Craig McRae's first 48 games in charge to finish on top of the ladder.
Jordan De Goey will hit September in form after torching Essendon around the ball with 27 disposals, eight inside 50s, 524m gained and a goal, while Jack Ginnivan and Brody Mihocek hit the scoreboard with three goals each and Tom Mitchell (33 touches, seven clearances) rolled his sleeves up and found plenty of the ball in tight.
Alarms must have been sounding in Brad Scott's box early after De Goey lit the fuse inside 60 seconds, slotting a shot on the run from just inside 50 to send an early warning.
When Mihocek went back and slotted his second goal 19 minutes into the first quarter, both sets of supporters erupted. The Collingwood faithful sensed an easy kill with a fourth straight goal, while the Bombers fans applauded the early arrival of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti after Kaine Baldwin failed a concussion test.
After a week of focus on the Magpies' wobbles, they were clinical across the first 30 minutes, kicking 8.1 to 0.2 – the biggest opening quarter under McRae – on the back of 19-7 inside 50s.
Things went from bad to worse early in the second quarter when Josh Daicos mopped up a messy passage 11 minutes in and converted on the run.
Collingwood had the first 10 goals on the board and a thick crowd on the final Friday night of the home and away season started to thin. Then Pat Lipinski made it 11-to-none 13 minutes into the second quarter and the deep, ethereal Collingwood chant swept through the MCG.
It took until the 20 minute mark of the second quarter for Essendon to finally kick a goal after Kyle Langford hit Sam Weideman inside the goal square to stop the rot after an insipid first 50 minutes.
Essendon put up a brief fight, kicking back-to-back goals, but Mihocek kicked his third after the half-time siren to give Collingwood a 58-point lead by the time the Auskick kids ran onto the ground.
The Magpies injected Fin Macrae into the fray at the start of the third quarter, with Jamie Elliott taken off with a corked quad. Collingwood didn't kick a goal for the first half of the third quarter, but neither did Essendon.
It took a moment of synergy between Ginnivan and Bobby Hill to kick the first goal of the second half, amid a quarter where Essendon kicked 0.6.
Ginnivan nailed his third goal from a set shot after receiving a free kick for a high tackle following a tackle by Mason Redman that saw the goal sneak's white headband ripped off his head. Much like the third quarter, the final stanza fizzled out.
After starting the season 4-1 and reaching the mid-season bye 8-5 following the King's Birthday eve win over Carlton – the Bombers were the last team to beat the Blues – Scott's first season in charge ends 11-12 with the win over Adelaide the only decent performance alongside unconvincing wins over North Melbourne and West Coast in the second half of the season.
It will mean another summer of introspection at Tullamarine after making sweeping changes last off-season.
For Collingwood, not much more could have gone to plan. Now the real stuff starts.
Jack Ginnivan kicked three goals or more seven times during his breakout 2022 campaign. He hadn't done it once in 2023 before Friday night. The 20-year-old cult figure was in everything against Essendon, kicking three goals, dishing off three more to go with 17 disposals. After starting the season in the VFL and spending 10 weeks out of the side through winter, Ginnivan returned as the sub in round 22 and now looks set to play a role in September.
Fin Macrae had to wait the entire home and away season to get another senior opportunity, despite a strong season in the VFL. The 21-year-old started as the sub but then entered the game at the start of the third quarter to replace Jamie Elliott. In his first game since the final game of the 2022 home and away season, Macrae finished with eight touches and seven tackles to show he can be called upon next month if required.
ESSENDON 0.2 2.4 2.10 3.13 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 8.1 12.2 14.3 16.5 (101)
Essendon: Weideman 2, Langford
Collingwood: Ginnivan 3, Mihocek 3, Elliott 2, Cameron, Daicos, De Goey, Hill, Lipinski, McStay, Mitchell, Pendlebury
Essendon: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (replaced Kaine Baldwin in the first quarter)
Collingwood: Fin Macrae (replaced Jamie Elliott at half-time)
Crowd: 74,344 at the MCG