The Pies now have two of their most valuable players injured, having lost young superstar Nick Daicos to a hairline fracture in his knee that is likely to result in him missing the start of the club’s finals campaign.
This was a win full of merit for Craig McRae’s men, who played their best football with their inspirational leader unavailable.
Josh Daicos was excellent with 37 possessions, his incisive kicking every bit as dangerous his younger brother. Brody Mihocek returned to form with five goals, including a dribbler from the boundary line which sparked the Pies in the second term.
Bobby Hill was electrifying. His running goal streaming through the front of the centre square in the third term was one of the highlights of the night.
Their running backs of Isaac Quaynor, Oleg Markov and Brayden Maynard cut the Cats to ribbons, particularly in the middle two quarters when the Pies dominated with 10 goals to four.
The Cats’ finals hopes are hanging by a thread after a performance which underlined many of their woes this year. Even if they win their last two games, against St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs, it may not be enough to book them a ticket to September.
Too much was left to too few. Cameron was the best afield with 7.4, including a controversial snap from the boundary that should not have been allowed as he had received the ball from Brad Close while out of play.
Cameron’s misses at the start of the final term when the Cats were charging, having kicked the first two goals to narrow the margin to 11 points, sapped their momentum.
Patrick Dangerfield was influential with nine clearances and 16 contested possessions in his 26 possessions, while Tom Atkins could hold his head high with 33. The rest of the midfield was well beaten.
The flaws in the Pies’ game last week were evident early, as they failed to enact their plan to pressure the Cats’ early possessions from stoppage. Cameron’s first goal came on the end of a passage involving three uncontested marks.
The Pies’ high defensive line was pierced several times, leading to two easy goals, including one to Tyson Stengle, who could have raffled the prize with two teammates in the goal square.
The Cats had the right men getting the ball. Dangerfield was powerful out of clearance. Mitch Duncan regularly found himself in space, ditto the retiring Isaac Smith.
The match changed complexion in the second quarter as the Magpies brought the fierce pressure that had been synonymous with their play under McRae.
Mihocek’s dribbler from the boundary line came amid a savage momentum swing in which the Cats were run off their legs.
The hard-nosed approach to defending that had been a hallmark of their success last year was not evident. Instead, their defence was in disarray, due in large part to the lack of pressure higher up the field.
On the rare occasions the ball reached their forward 50, the Pies’ running backs Quaynor, Markov and Maynard ensured it bounced out with interest.
Explosive Geelong forward Gary Rohan was subbed out in the second quarter with a hip/adductor issue. Rohan came off in the field in the first term for treatment high on his left leg. Though he returned to the field, he was clearly incapacitated. It continues a bad run on the injury front for the Cats, who lost spearhead Tom Hawkins and utility Mark Blicavs a fortnight ago.
3.4 7.8 13.11 16.13 (109)
6.2 8.3 10.5 15.11 (101)
Collingwood: Mihocek 5, Howe 2, Elliott 2, McStay 2, McCreery 2, Pendlebury, Adams, Hill.
Geelong: Cameron 7, Henry 4, Stengle, Close, Guthrie, Dangerfield.
Collingwood: J Daicos, Mihocek, Quaynor, Hill, Lipinski, Adams, Maynard.
Geelong: Cameron, Dangerfield, Atkins, Henry.
Collingwood: Moore (hamstring), Noble (corked leg).
Geelong: Rohan (hip/adductor).
Donlon, O’Gorman, Nicholls, Meredith.
78,749 at the MCG.
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