THE 2023 Grand Final had everything. Check out the 10 biggest talking points from an epic decider.
1. Magpies are the masters of the close finish
No-one does it like Collingwood. After winning the qualifying final by seven points against Melbourne, the preliminary final by one against Greater Western Sydney, it was almost fitting that it came down to the dying second to seal the premiership against the Lions. Leading by four points and still two minutes remaining when the ball went back to the centre for the final time, Brisbane surged it forward, but the Magpies managed to bottle the game up, chip it around and again manage the clock superbly to claim victory. It was the Pies' 17th win by a single-digit margin in the two seasons under Craig McRae, and their total winning margin across three thrilling finals this year was just 12 points.
2. It was Bobby's party on the 'G, and we were all invited
Just 12 months after leaving Greater Western Sydney to head to Collingwood, Bobby Hill put on a first-half performance for the ages. After a first quarter goal to settle the nerves, he lit up the game's biggest stage in the second with a spectacular mark on the shoulders of Lions defender Brandon Starcevich. When Hill bodied Ryan Lester to win a ball, feigned to kick on his right boot, and swung back on his left to split the sticks, he had four in the first half. He was the most dangerous player on the ground and deserved the Norm Smith Medal with his 4.2 from 18 disposals and eight marks.
3. De Goey is worth every cent
After Charlie Cameron put the Lions in front with less than six minutes left, it was Jordan De Goey that snatched back momentum and ultimately victory with a moment of individual brilliance. After Nick Daicos gathered a loose ball at half-forward and handballed in one action, De Goey lined up and struck the sweetest drop punt from 50m as the goal umpire leant back and watched the ball sail over his head. After so much tumult throughout his career and a big decision to remain with the Magpies 12 months ago, the brilliant midfielder proved he was worth every cent once and for all.
4. Charlie takes the Country Roads wherever he goes
It's become synonymous following his goals at the Gabba and 'Country Roads' found a way to inspire Charlie Cameron at the MCG. After the Lions dynamo failed to touch the ball in the first term, the John Denver classic rang around the ground at quarter-time, with the Brisbane crowd joining in. Just 30 seconds into the second quarter, Cameron snapped on his left foot to set the visiting supporters into chorus again. He kicked another minutes later to get right into the game.
MAGPIES v LIONS Full Grand Final match coverage and stats
5. An epic day was sealed with a KISS
Thankfully there was no repeat of the infamous Meatloaf performance in this year's pre-game entertainment, with veteran rockers KISS getting the crowd revved right up before the teams entered the field. With their usual combination of pyrotechnics and hundreds of performers taking up a third of the field, they had the crowd roaring to 'I Was Made For Lovin' You' and 'Rock and Roll All Night'.
6. Zac's got all the party tricks
Lions livewire Zac Bailey kicked a Grand Final goal for the ages early in the match. After Mason Cox took a strong mark at half-back, the big American was called to play on, at which point Bailey pounced, Smother and then got a handball from Joe Daniher before his real creative was put to use. Appearing to be hemmed in on the left boundary line, Bailey stemmed around Nathan Murphy, then ran away from a forlorn Cox before uncorking a perfect right foot snap from 30m to bring the house down.
7. Nathan Murphy's luckless run continued
Not for the first time in his career, Nathan Murphy had to leave the field with a head injury. Murphy and Brisbane forward Linc McCarthy came together in a first quarter contest that left the Collingwood defender dazed. He left the field for an assessment and did not return after quarter-time, replaced by substitute Patrick Lipinski. It meant Jeremy Howe had to slide over to defend Eric Hipwood in a reshuffled backline.
8. The 'job' on Harris Andrews went …
Dan McStay's knee injury in the preliminary final threw a spanner into Collingwood's forward line, with coach Craig McRae opting to select Billy Frampton. As expected, Frampton tried to play a largely defensive role on Brisbane co-captain Harris Andrews, and despite having just two disposals and giving away two free kicks, was effective for much of the first half. However, Andrews became a significant factor after half-time, racking up 16 disposals and a game-high eight intercept possessions to be one of his team's best players.
9. Daicos can't shake the plastic bag tag
In two seasons Nick Daicos has shown he can do just about anything, and he added a new trick to his bag in the second quarter. After marking the ball in the middle of the ground, a stray plastic bag was blowing past him when the young Pie managed to swat it away, play on and take his disposal. Not much fazes him!
10. Pies come up clutch after the siren ... again
If closing quarters strongly is a key to winning premierships, it's little wonder the Magpies saluted. De Goey took a mark on the 50m arc right as the quarter-time siren sounded and the Collingwood star calmly went back and flushed his set shot from long range to lift his team. Likewise on the half-time hooter it was Jack Crisp's turn, with the Pie sending it home from 50m. And although there was no late heroics in the fourth term, they did enough to outlast the Lions when it mattered most.