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Hungry Cats pounce on Magpies to steal a thriller

Highlights: Collingwood v Geelong The Magpies and Cats clash in round one

GEELONG has outlasted Collingwood in a fascinating, yet scrappy round one contest at the MCG, upsetting last year's Grand Finalists in a thrilling Friday night blockbuster.

In a hard-fought bout, Tom Hawkins' classy finish on the run in the dying stages of the game was the defining moment for Chris Scott's side, as a new-look and newly resolved Cats side secured a narrow seven-point win.

The clash had seesawed both ways throughout a dramatic final term, before a Geelong team featuring six fresh faces and four AFL debutants crawled its way to the finish line to claim a 10.12 (72) to 9.11 (65) victory.

PIES v CATS Full match coverage and stats

The Pies had one final roll of the dice when they trailed by six points with over a minute remaining, but Jeremy Howe turned the ball over to Patrick Dangerfield with the superstar Cat kicking the final point of the match.

Tim Kelly, fresh from a failed trade request over the off-season, was the star of the show, putting his summer of discontent behind him with a best-on-ground display that featured 31 disposals, nine clearances and two goal assists.

Dangerfield (27 disposals, one goal) and Gary Ablett (23 disposals, two goals) also played key hands in the victory, as Geelong set the bar for its season ahead with the crucial win.

Jamie Elliott, returning from an 18-month injury nightmare, was Collingwood's standout with three first-half goals, while Adam Treloar (34 disposals, one goal) was prolific. Yet the Pies had too few role players across the field, falling narrowly short.

In a nervous opening term for both sides, the Cats might have enjoyed the territorial dominance, but found it difficult to capitalise on their superiority forward of centre.

Instead, it was the Pies who counter attacked. Elliott's zip provided the team with its first goal for the night, while his smarts out the back earned him a second in quick succession.

 

In a contest severely lacking in potency and execution – just seven goals were kicked in the first half – it was clearly Elliott who looked the most dangerous threat for either side.

He took Mark Blicavs deep, worrying last year's All Australian squad member with his pace and nous around goal. His subtle strength in the contest acted as another major threat.

Yet despite Elliott's excitement, the second term was almost a reversal of the first.

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Now it was Collingwood taking the game to Geelong, but it was the Cats holding firm.

The result was a bizarre first half, which the Pies narrowly edged to lead by 11 points at the main break.

Profligacy remained the big issue for Nathan Buckley's side. Having kicked six successive behinds in the second quarter before Elliott's third eventually broke the drought, the Pies butchered more chances to give the Cats an entry back into the contest.

 

Ablett, enjoying a much-publicised move forward, made the most of one such opportunity, while new recruit Luke Dahlhaus (24 disposals, one goal) also looked lively to draw Geelong level at the final change.

However, where you might have forgiven a young and inexperienced Cats side featuring four senior debutants to crumble under such pressure, they instead rose to the occasion.

Charlie Constable, one of the aforementioned quartet, converted from a clever snap to put Geelong back in front, before Hawkins sealed the deal, kicking his 500th career goal with just minutes remaining.

 

MEDICAL ROOM
Collingwood:
The Pies escaped Friday night's contest with a clean bill of health.
Geelong:
Harry Taylor went down to the rooms after copping a stray elbow to the face in the second term, but quickly returned to the field. Otherwise, the Cats finished fully fit.

NEXT UP
Collingwood has a six-day turnaround before its preliminary final replay against Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night, while Geelong returns home to GMHBA Stadium to renew acquaintances with Melbourne on Saturday night.

COLLINGWOOD  3.5   4.9   7.10    9.11 (65)
GEELONG            2.2   3.4   7.10   10.12 (72)

GOALS
Collingwood: Elliott 3, De Goey 2, Cox, Treloar, Beams, Brown
Geelong: Ablett 2, Hawkins 2, Duncan, Selwood, Dahlhaus, Dangerfield, Constable, Parfitt 

BEST
Collingwood: Treloar, Moore, Pendlebury, Phillips, Elliott, Sidebottom
Geelong: Kelly, Stewart, Dangerfield, Dahlhaus, Ablett, Selwood 

INJURIES
Collingwood: Nil
Geelong: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Harris, Haussen

Official crowd: 78,017 at the MCG