COLLINGWOOD has already notched one important win on the last Saturday in September, with the club's AFLW team defeating Essendon by 20 points at Punt Road Oval.
As the glaring sun set in across the city ahead of the AFL Grand Final, the Pies brought their own heat to keep their season alive with a 6.8 (44) to 3.6 (24) victory.
Despite trailing across all metrics bar tackles early, Collingwood capitalised on its opportunities to keep itself in the game. Conceding the first five inside-50s, the Pies found a reply, winning two of the next three and scoring a goal from both entries.
Bonnie Toogood proved to be a worry for Collingwood’s defence, kicking two goals in the first half on the back of strong leads and body work.
Collingwood, however, largely denied Essendon’s opportunity to score with the breeze in the second quarter after Stephen Symonds called for its defence to tighten up during his quarter time address.
Erica Fowler recorded her first goal in the AFLW which came as a reward for the Pies’ intensity.
Essendon continued to find plenty of the ball across the first half, but the Magpies were more impactful with their possessions. The Pies went on to win the inside 50 count in the second quarter, remaining composed in their decision making to secure a 13-point lead at the main break
After calling for a team effort amongst the midfield group following last week's loss to St Kilda, Symonds got his wish, with pressure released from Bri Davey as she switched to half forward. Her counterparts Aishling Sheridin, Sarah Rowe and Brit Bonnici were able to rise in her absence and drive the ball forward.
There was a small scare for the Pies as Bri Davey rose from a contest looking proppy, but the captain soon shook off any sign of worry.
MAGPIES v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
Essendon appeared frustrated as the game wore on as it was unable to foster the ball movement that saw it dominate possession early, whilst also missing opportunities when going forward.
Maddy Prespakis was immense, especially in the third term, which saw her gather 10 disposals - five contested - and lay three tackles. Georgia Nanscawen also continued to put her body on the line, amassing 16 disposals and laying seven tackles in a day that the Bombers will use as a learning experience.
Essendon battled hard, but despite more Toogood brilliance, it was unable to find enough opportunities to score.
A late hit to Sophie Alexander worsened the blow for the Bombers, with the forward taken to hospital as a precaution following the game.
Comp's evolution on display
The AFLW competition has developed in leaps and strides, and Collingwood’s second goal to Alana Porter - which saw Porter stream down the Grandstand wing off the back of an intercept from Ash Brazill - was a true display of the class and skill present in season eight.
Pies fans flock to Punt Road Oval ahead of the AFL Grand Final
The move of Collingwood and Essendon’s clash from the AIA Centre to Punt Road Oval in the shadow of the MCG saw a sea of black and white, rather than the usual yellow and black, flood the Swinburne Centre. The sun was shining and AFL fans anxiously awaiting the afternoon's Grand Final were present in huge numbers, showing up to support their AFLW side before walking across to the ‘G.
Pies power through
Despite using 35 of their 60 interchanges at quarter time, the Pies were finally able to string four quarters together. The inclusion of Lauren Butler seemed to strengthen their defence, whilst Bri Davey rested forward which in turn, opened up opportunities for the Pies’ midfield group.
"It's a big day for our club. To get off to a good start to the day is really positive and puts everyone in a good mood right from the start. We’ve had a few quarters that have really cost us this year. It’s nice to be able to play four consistent quarters together today. Some of the learning we’ve taken away from the last couple of weeks, we've learnt from and we can move forward, each week at a time." - Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
"We over-handballed it today, that’s for sure. That’s what good teams with pressure do, they force you into doing things you don’t really want to do, so credit to Collingwood with that. We’re trying to find that balance of getting those kick marks but also making sure we’ve got enough speed on the game - we’ll keep evolving that." - Essendon coach Natalie Wood
Collingwood will continue their hard run, facing Brisbane at Brighton Homes Arena on Saturday night. Essendon’s match-up against Geelong on Sunday will be an interesting one, with the afternoon game in Warrnambool shaping as an important moment for both teams to amplify their finals ambitions.
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 4.4 5.7 6.8 (44)
ESSENDON 1.0 2.1 2.2 3.6 (24)
Collingwood: Porter 2, Sheridan, Fowler, Smith, Morris
Essendon: Toogood 3
Collingwood: Rowe, Davey, Porter, Sheridan, Frederick
Essendon: Prespakis, Toogood, Nanscawen, Wales, Cain
Essendon: Sophie Alexander (neck)
Crowd: 1,422 at Punt Road Oval