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VFL: Finals-bound Magpies beat the Borough

VFL: Round 20 win in 60 seconds Get a snapshot of the VFL Magpies' eight-point win over Port Melbourne in 60 seconds with Collingwood Media.
Patrick Karnezis celebrates one of his two goals in Collingwood's eight point victory. Photo: Shane Barrie.

The VFL Magpies are on their way to a third consecutive Elimination Final after a hard-fought eight point victory over Port Melbourne at Victoria Park.

The fate of Dale Tapping’s side was determined before the opening bounce on Saturday afternoon, however the narrow win over one of the VFL’s most successful teams will no doubt give confidence as the Magpies look to extend their season beyond next week.

Tapping will face a selection headache following the round 20 victory, yet he is excited about the opportunities that a finals campaign will bring.

“It’s pleasing for the players and all the guys that have represented the team,” the coach told Collingwood Media post match.

“There’s some great opportunities for players with exposure and development opportunities, big crowds and to see guys go under a little bit more pressure. There’s less time and space. There’s real challenges that come with finals footy,” he said.

While there was nothing on the line for either team in Saturday’s meeting at Victoria Park, both sides eagerness at the contest showed that the game was far from a dead rubber.

With an AFL spot likely to be open after the knee injury of Dane Swan, midfielders Ben Kennedy and Sam Dwyer kicked goals in the first time as they signalled their desire for selection.

Patrick Karnezis added two majors after half time, while Adam Oxley, Jarrod Witts and Jack Frost were all named among Collingwood’s best players.

In front a crowd witnessing football at Victoria Park for the final time in 2015, the Magpies extended a comfortable quarter time lead to 19 points at the main break.

However under the directions of Gary Ayres, the Borough came out firing in the third term.

Led by prominent ball-winner Blake Pearson, Port kicked five goals to two and took the lead for the first time of the afternoon late in the third quarter.

Staring down the barrel of being behind at three-quarter-time, Ben Moloney nudged Collingwood back in front with a late goal at the Yarra Falls end.

However the two point lead was not enough to impress Tapping.

“In the third quarter we certainly fell away and fell off the contest,” he said.

“They got some momentum on the back of that and were playing some pretty spirited footy.”

After reassessing at the three-quarter-time break, Tapping was pleased with the Magpies ability to fight under duress in the final term.

A classy piece of play involving Witts, Brent Macaffer and Clinton Young on the wing resulted in a Karnezis goal, before Nick Gray and Moloney each kicked their second goals to cement the victory.

“Full credit to the players. Their response in the last quarter was really strong,” Tapping said.

“We had to kick into a couple-of-goal breeze and had to kick some goals to get back in front. It was pleasing from that point of view.”

What’s arguably more pleasing is the prospect of a finals campaign which has the potential to extend into the latter stages of September.

Collingwood will most likely head to North Port Oval next Saturday where they will face the loser of Sunday’s Werribee-Footscray clash.

The Magpies defeated Werribee by 42 points in round nine, while it shares a record of one win and one loss with the Bulldogs in 2015.

Collingwood   3.4  5.8  7.11  10.12 (72)
Port Melbourne   1.4  2.7  7.9  9.10 (64)

Collingwood: Moloney 2, Gray 2, Karnezis 2, Dwyer, Oxley, Matheson, Kennedy
Port Melbourne: Toman 2, Mascitti, Pearson, Phillips, Johnston, Batsanis, Lisle, Vearing

Collingwood: Oxley, Witts, Frost, Kennedy, R.Pendlebury, Monkhorst
Port Melbourne: Pearson, O'Sullivan, Pinwill, Mascitti, Dickson, Phillips