PATRICK Dangerfield has dominated many big games and many finals before. But usually they haven't been from full-forward.
Dangerfield was the centrepiece of Geelong's semi-final slaughter of Collingwood on Saturday night, as the Cats booked a preliminary final berth against Brisbane with a 68-point trashing of the listless Pies.
CATS v PIES Full match coverage and stats
The superstar midfielder was stationed deep in attack for the majority of the contest and was supreme in the Cats' dominant 15.10 (100) to 5.2 (32) victory at the Gabba on Saturday night. Remarkably, Collingwood was kept to one goal in the opening three quarters, with four late majors clawing them out of record-breaking lows.
Dangerfield finished with four goals in a brilliant performance spent largely inside the forward 50, with the Brownlow medallist gathering 19 disposals, six marks and having an immeasurable impact on the result.
The Cats' depth of midfield options gives coach Chris Scott the chance to use one of the competition's best ball-getters deep in attack and Dangerfield was up for the task, flying for grabs, splitting packs and creating even more goals than he kicked.
The Cats entered the clash with their finals record under the spotlight and having won four of their past 16 finals games. But that monkey on their back quickly disappeared as they embarrassed the Magpies on neutral turf.
After its thrilling elimination final win over West Coast last week in Perth, Collingwood was off the boil and was made to look third-rate by the Cats, who were as tough as they were slick. It was a meek ending for Nathan Buckley's men, even if their travel across the country appeared to have taken its toll.
Mitch Duncan was among the Cats' best with 30 disposals, including 19 in the first half, while Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola were also terrific. Defensive pair Tom Stewart and Lachie Henderson were also important in shutting down any chances for the impotent Pies, who had few winners as Geelong's barrage began early.
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The Cats booted the first three goals of the game and had broken out to a 22-point lead by the first change.
Geelong champion Gary Ablett was involved early, setting up the first two goals, while Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins also got involved.
Dangerfield, playing from deep in attack, helped extend that lead to start the second quarter with two bits of brilliance. The first came when he ran out of the goalsquare, crashed a pack and Luke Dahlhaus was there to take the spoils.
The next was a mark pinned up against the boundary line, from which the superstar calmly slotted the checkside shot. Within moments the Cats had lifted to a 34-point lead, leaving Collingwood floundering.
More Dangerfield magic, this time a holding-the-ball tackle and then another outside-the-boot banana goal, helped the Cats to a nine-goal lead at the main break after keeping the Magpies scoreless for the term. Before the Magpies could settle, the game – and their season – had been extinguished.
The second half played out like the two sides were already thinking about next week: the Cats about preserving energy ahead of the preliminary final clash against the Lions and the Magpies ruing a finals shocker in real time.
GEELONG 4.4 9.6 9.8 15.10 (100)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 1.0 1.1 5.2 (32)
Geelong: Dangerfield 4, Hawkins 4, Dahlhaus, Guthrie, Menegola, Miers, Selwood, Stanley, Tuohy
Collingwood: Mihocek 2, Elliott, Grundy, Stephenson
Geelong: Dangerfield, Duncan, Stewart, Guthrie, Henderson, Menegola
Collingwood: Adams, Crisp, Quaynor, Thomas
Geelong: Stanley (knee)
Collingwood: Adams (elbow), Cox (ribs)