The Geelong Cats won their third AFL premiership in five years when they overran Collingwood by 38 points in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Cats won 18.11 (119) to 12.9 (81) to give coach Chris Scott a grand final win in his first year in charge and add to Geelong’s premierships in 2007 and 2009.
They also denied Collingwood’s Mick Malthouse a fairytale finish to his 28-year coaching career.
Few people gave the ageing Geelong side much of a chance at the start of the season following the loss of star player Gary Ablett and coach Mark Thompson.
But it was the younger Collingwood outfit who were made to look tired and flat-footed late in Saturday’s game as Geelong surged to victory in the final quarter.
Star forward Steve Johnson answered questions over his recovery from a knee injury in stunning style with four goals, while much maligned young key forward Tom Hawkins kicked three goals in the closing stages.
Midfielder Jimmy Bartel combined a typically courageous and hard-working game with three crucial goals, while Joel Selwood was a fearless midfield ball-winner.
Defender Tom Lonergan also played a crucial role as he shut down Collingwood’s Travis Cloke, who had kept the Magpies in touch with three goals early in the game.
While Geelong’s decision to select Johnson paid off, Collingwood were made to pay for gambling on players under injury clouds, particularly Ben Reid, whose struggles running made him a liability in defence in the second half.