Lincoln McCarthy has sunk his former AFL side with a spectacular mark and goal in the dying moments as Brisbane Lions ran down Geelong in a thriller at the Gabba.
The tight contest came as Collingwood sent a message to both teams with a 66-point rout of Adelaide.
McCarthy, having moved north this season to revitalise his career, had just seven touches all day before he soared high to mark and put the Lions ahead with 90 seconds to play on Saturday.
The Lions hung on in a top-of-the table thriller 10.15 (75) to 10.14 (74) the first time the Lions had beaten the Cats since 2013.
Geelong led by 17 inside the final 10 minutes after Esava Ratugolea’s second goal, but the Lions dragged themselves back through Charlie Cameron (five goals) and superb defence from Marcus Adams.
Patrick Dangerfield dominated the guts of the Gabba with 37 touches in what appeared to be a match-winning hand.
But, just like in 2013 when Ash McGrath goaled after the siren to win, the Lions engineered another comeback to notch a ninth-straight victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 35,608.
The ladder-leaders were always going to ask new questions as Chris Fagan’s side prepared for their first finals foray in a decade.
And the Cats didn’t take long to do so, shocking the Lions with their pace around the contest and forcing mistakes from the Lions’ backline.
Magpies send a message
In Adelaide Collingwood’s coach Nathan Buckley says the 17.12 (114) to 6.12 (48) crushing of the Crows is a reminder that his team can have a finals impact.
While the Pies will return to fifth place should Richmond beat West Coast on Sunday, Buckley believes his club is improving.
“We’re seeing the type of footy that we want to play more often,” he said.
“That is always important to get that validation, the reminder for the players of what it feels like to be playing the way that you’re capable of and to be able to impose that on an opposition.
Clearly when the stakes get higher and the opposition becomes sharper, then it becomes a little bit more difficult to execute that.
“But I think we’re in a pretty good space to be able to take those next steps.”
Collingwood meet Essendon next Friday night in their last game before the finals, with Buckley rating key defender Darcy Moore a chance to return from a hamstring strain.
But he said electric forward Jordan de Goey (hamstring) was an unlikely starter, though certain to return for week one of the finals – when Jaiydn Stephenson will be available after serving his gambling suspension.
De Goey’s attacking void was superbly filled on Saturday by Jamie Elliott, who kicked five goals against the hapless Crows.
Collingwood all but killed off ninth-placed Adelaide’s finals chances – their fate rests with others after their biggest loss of the year.
“We came here with so much to play for and … we weren’t able to elevate to the level required,” Crows coach Don Pyke said.
“We have got some searching to do in terms of looking at all components of our program.”
Blues beat Saints to make Teague’s day
Carlton’s feel-good factor looks set to last all summer after the Blues gave newly-franked AFL coach David Teague a winning start against St Kilda.
The Blues came from behind to post a 11.12 (78) to 10.8 (68) win at the MCG on Saturday, two days after Teague was appointed as head coach.
Carlton’s faithful turned out en masse for the occasion and saw two of the club’s favourite sons power them to victory.
No.1 draft picks Marc Murphy and Matthew Kreuzer were superb as the Blues reeled in the Saints, responding to all challenges in the final term.
Down back, Levi Casboult was a colossus in the absence of late withdrawal Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones.
But with the match on the line in time-on, ninth-gamer Josh Deluca proved an unlikely hero, sending a wobbly goal over the line by the barest of margins to restore Carlton’s lead.