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Inspired Pies end season for flat Cats

Highlights: Geelong v Collingwood The Cats and Magpies clash in round 22
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Taylor Adams of the Magpies is tackled by Steven Motlop of the Cats during the 2015 AFL round 22 match between the Geelong Cats and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on August 28, 2015. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Steven Motlop tries to shut down Taylor Adams at the MCG on Friday night

GEELONG'S golden era came to a close on Friday night, with the Cats locked out of finals for the first time since 2006 following their 48-point loss to Collingwood at the MCG. 

After 21 finals, four Grand Finals and three premierships in the past nine years, it was painfully obvious that one of the greatest teams of the modern era has achieved all it will, Collingwood winning 17.8 (110) to 9.8 (62).     

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The shining light on a dark night was the remarkable return of young Cat Daniel Menzel after four knee reconstructions, with the 23-year-old booting four goals and taking one of the marks of the year to remind the competition of his quality.   

Five talking points: Geelong v Collingwood 

But a fresh chapter in his career could mark the departure of triple-premiership stars like James Kelly, Steve Johnson and Andrew Mackie, who all had horror moments on Friday night with their team's season on the line. 

WATCH: Menzel makes amazing return

"It's hard to explain. I'd be devastated if our boys weren't up for the challenge given what was at stake," Cats coach Chris Scott said post-match.

"We knew they were going to pressure, that is their game … (but) we just failed in the contest early and could not peg them back after that."    

WATCH: Pies pile on the pressure

The Cats' veterans were shown up by a younger, quicker Collingwood team set on redemption after being described as "22 individuals" by coach Nathan Buckley last week after a 91-point loss to Richmond.

The Magpies' response to that stinging critique came from a "new midfield crew", with Buckley asking Taylor Adams (36 possessions and 12 clearances), Jordan De Goey (25 and 10) and Jack Crisp (31 and nine inside 50s) do the grunt work. 

Levi Greenwood, meanwhile, tagged Joel Selwood relentlessly all night and kept the champion Cat to 19 possessions, winning 21 himself. 

That group's efforts allowed captain Scott Pendlebury to work off the back of stoppages, racking up 10 damaging possessions in the first quarter and finishing with 33 and no clearances for just the ninth time in 213 games.

 

Buckley's faith in his younger players was rewarded, with the Magpies kicking seven of the first eight goals to lead by 36 points at quarter-time and extending that to 50 at the main break. 

"We asked a different midfield crew to take responsibility," Buckley said after the game.

"[Crisp], Jordan De Goey, Levi (Greenwood) and Taylor Adams were the mainstays through the midfield.

"I thought together with (ruckman) Brodie Grundy as that centre bounce crew, they were able to set the agenda and it was a really good start." 

 

Friday night's result sealed the top eight – and took the sting out of a round 23 match-up between Adelaide and the Cats – with the Crows and North Melbourne locked in for September action with two games each to play.  

The Magpies will likely go into their round 23 clash against Essendon without midfielder Dane Swan, who suffered a right medial knee injury and was substituted at half time.

Key forward Travis Cloke was withdrawn late with tightness behind a knee but could play, but Ben Sinclair's season was ended with a broken hand.

The Cats will be looking to 2016 in the final round, but they can do so with optimism that Menzel will be a vital part of their future following his amazing return.

After waiting 1450 days to play his 22nd game, Menzel attacked the ball and won his first possession inside the first 20 seconds, taking a big contested mark on the lead minutes later.  

Menzel back with a bang

He was mobbed by teammates halfway through the first quarter when he converted on the run with his left foot from 50m. His second on his right was equally classy and decisive.  

He ran into an open goalsquare for his third and made it one goal in each quarter when he flew for a brilliant mark in the final term and converted his set shot. 

As the lights were turned off on a magnificent Geelong era, Menzel's performance perhaps heralded the start of another, alongside young Cats like Mark Blicavs and Cam Guthrie, who battled hard all night.

Friday night's capitulation ended Geelong's eight-year run of finals appearances. Picture: AFL Media

GEELONG             1.1   3.3    6.6    9.8 (62)
COLLINGWOOD   7.1   11.5  13.6  17.8 (110)

GOALS
Geelong: Menzel 4, Hawkins 2, Johnson, Lang, Motlop
Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Moore 2, Sidebottom 2, Elliott 2, White 2, Adams, Swan, Varcoe, Maynard, Grundy, Greenwood

BEST 
Geelong: 
Menzel, Blicavs, Mackie, Guthrie, Kolodjashnij
Collingwood:
 Greenwood, Pendlebury, De Goey, Adams, Crisp, Moore, Grundy

INJURIES 
Geelong: Nil
Collingwood: Travis Cloke (hamstring soreness) replaced in selected side by Jesse White, Dane Swan (right knee), Ben Sinclair (broken hand)

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong: Josh Walker replaced by Jordan Murdoch in the third quarter
Collingwood: Dane Swan replaced by Jonathon Marsh at half time

Reports: Nil 

Umpires: Nicholls, Jeffery, Mollison

Official crowd: 40,582 at the MCG