Rohan stars as Geelong win epic AFL final

·3-min read

Gary Rohan has given the perfect response to criticism of his finals record, leading Geelong to an epic six-point AFL win over Collingwood.

The Cats also exorcised their first-week September demons on Saturday with the pulsating 11.12 (78) to 10.12 (72) qualifying final win in front of 91,525 fans at the MCG.

The Cats were behind at every change against the Magpies, who have made an art form this season of pulling off tight wins, but kicked four of the last five goals in the game.

Geelong and Rohan stood up when it counted to earn the week off ahead of their preliminary final as the gallant Magpies face a sudden-death semi-final next weekend.

While Collingwood coach Craig McRae was proud of his team and said they were not losers, the Magpies lost midfielder Taylor Adams for the rest of the finals series with a serious groin injury.

Rohan was mighty, kicking three goals and earning high praise from coach Chris Scott.

"It is gratifying, I don't mind saying that," said Scott, who bristled earlier this week when asked about Rohan's finals record.

"We are really clear on what he can bring to our team and the way we play.

"He's absolutely an energy-giver, his teammates love playing with him and I'm just really proud of him today.

"Suffice to say his teammates are really happy for him because he was able to narrow his focus to what it was that we were asking of him, and he delivered in spades."

Rohan took a soaring mark 23 minutes into the last quarter and kicked a booming goal from 50m to put the Cats back in front by a point - the 10th lead change of the match.

Jack Crisp's missed shot tied the scores with two minutes 30 seconds left and then Josh Daicos kicked the ball out on the full.

With 1:20 left, Rohan dropped an uncontested chest mark, but he ran onto the loose ball and dished off to Max Holmes, who kicked the match-winning goal.

The all-time great clash continued a bumper start to the finals series, following Brisbane's last-gasp win over Richmond and Sydney's upset of reigning premiers Melbourne.

Before Saturday, the Cats had won just 10 of 25 finals under Scott and since he took over in 2011, their most recent premiership, they were a dismal 2-8 in the first week of September.

Jeremy Cameron also kicked three goals for the Cats and captain Joel Selwood starred, while Darcy Moore and Jordan De Goey were Collingwood's best.

But Adams needed help to the leave the field in the last quarter, having returned from the same injury for this match.

"It looks like (his) season's done - it looks like he might have torn the groin off the bone," McRae said.

De Goey, who put Collingwood 12 points up at the start of the last quarter, hurt his right shoulder early in the game and was icing it post-match.

But he is likely to be fit for their semi-final.

Geelong defender Jake Kolodjashnij was subbed out before halftime with a knee injury.

Several Collingwood players slumped to the ground after the final siren, something that irked McRae.

"We lost the game, but we're not losers - there is a difference," he said.

"For the lifetime I'm sitting in this chair, maybe barring a grand final, if we don't win, don't lie on the ground.

"We're still alive to fight another battle."

McRae added that several Collingwood tackles went unrewarded.

"I don't know if that's something we'll look at and if AFL will look at that," he said

"We had a lot of awesome tackles that didn't get rewarded."