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Collingwood notch up flag sweet 16 in thrilling grand final

Collingwood win 2023 AFL premiership
Collingwood coach Craig McRae and captain Darcy Moore celebrate with the fans following the Magpies victory over Brisbane in the AFL grand final. Picture: CFC

Collingwood soared to a thrilling victory against the Brisbane Lions, claiming their 16th premiership in a nail-biting AFL grand final that ended with a narrow four-point win, 12.18 (90) to 13.8 (86).

This triumph at the MCG brought jubilation to the 100,024 fans in attendance and marked a record-equalling achievement for the club, with the Magpies 16th flag drawing them level with Carlton and Essendon on the all-time flags list.

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The Magpies were the bookmakers favourites to win the clash, priced at around $1.76 to win, with the Lions ($2.10) outsiders despite having won six successive games against their opponent.

Bobby Hill was instrumental in the victory, delivering a career-defining performance with four goals, earning him the coveted Norm Smith Medal. With the game hanging in the balance, Jordan De Goey landed a crucial goal with just five minutes left on the clock, pushing Collingwood into the lead, a position they tenaciously defended until the final siren, despite losing key defender Nathan Murphy to a concussion earlier in the game.

Scott Pendlebury, at 35 years old, delivered another standout performance, with his contributions pivotal in steering the Magpies to their first premiership since 2010, healing the wounds of their agonising defeats in the 2011 and 2018 grand finals.

Reacting to the triumphant win, Collingwood’s captain, Darcy Moore, who revealed post-match he had been managing an ankle injury, shared his elation.

“It’s so surreal. I grew up a Collingwood supporter, I was here in 2010 and it feels surreal,” he said.

“So much work goes into it, so much has to go right, and we did it. Just incredible, it was fun to play and I am sure it was fun to watch. We said at halftime ‘jeez what an incredible game to play in’. Brisbane just kept coming at us, I am lost for words.”

Collingwood coach Craig McRae, who announced his wife had given birth to a baby named Maggie on Saturday morning, also took a moment to commend the Brisbane Lions and their coach, Chris Fagan.

“I’d like to pay my respects to Fages [Chris Fagan] and the Brisbane Lions,” McRae, who played in the Lions’ three-peat of flags, said.

“I’ve always got a soft spot for you guys and it’s one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in.”

Young star Nick Daicos was the leading possession winner on the ground, with 29 touches, while Jack Crisp and Tom Mitchell were also pivotal in the victory with their hardness and cool demeanours proving to be unflappable.

Brisbane was well served by Josh Dunkley, who kept a close leash on Magpies star Jordan De Goey for most of the contest, while Keidean Coleman was outstanding in the second-half, but faded late.

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