Marty important as Pies win despite a draw
Friday, September 14 2007 @ 11:20 pm ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Collingwood tonight steamed home to win their first game against the Eagles in Perth since 1992 after scores were locked at 10.12 (72) each at the end of the fourth quarter. For only the second time since the system was brought in to decide drawn finals, extra time was needed - two additional mini-halves of five minutes each. Young international recruit Martin Clarke was involved in a crucial play in the closing minutes of the dramatic match.
West Coast went into the match without possibly the best three midfielders in the game, with Chris Judd, Ben Cousins and Daniel Kerr all lost to injury, and the toll was too much - just. The result came just a week after a gripping opening to the finals in which Port Adelaide won a thriller by three points over West Coast and Adelaide lost by the same margin to the up and coming Hawthorn. Joining Adelaide in an earlier exit than usual were last year's runners-up Sydney, downed comfortably by Collingwood. But ominously the team to beat in 2007, the Cats from Geelong, ripped apart North Melbourne by 106 points.
As Geelong and Port sit back and enjoy the week off, North will try to regain some respect against the Hawks while Collingwood were able to slip past West Coast. Both sides were clearly out on their feet as the game went into extra time, and that will be a worry for the Pies' coaching staff as they face the rested Cats next week. To aid them in their task the AFL's richest club chartered their own jet so they could promptly depart Perth for the long return flight to Melbourne, with the plane to fly at low altitude to reduce the physiological impact.
One of the critical moments in the Magpies' win occurred when the ball spilled into the open in the final period of the match. Key forward Travis Cloke dived forward to knock the Sherrin out to young Irish wonder Martin Clarke. He had a split second to sum up the situation as Eagles converged on him and the first year player deftly chipped the ball with his left boot into the path of Scott Pendlebury, who slotted the goal that sealed the game. Shortly after Dane Swan added the icing to the cake leaving Collingwood in front 13.15 (93) to 10.14 (74) - 19 points a deceptively large margin for a drawn match! Clarke finished the game with 12 kicks 8 handballs 7 marks and helped reduce the influence of West Coast's Michael Braun, who stepped up to help cover for his missing team mates but wasn't a major factor in the game. It's still very early in his career and Clarke has a long way to go, but looks on track to become an Irish star to rival former Melbourne great Jim Stynes.