The AFL has made its long-awaited return to Perth, with Collingwood defeating Geelong by 22 points in front of the largest crowd allowed to attend a match so far during the coronavirus-disrupted season.
- Just over 22,000 spectators attended the match at Perth Stadium
- The Magpies and Cats moved west to join the AFL’s Perth hub
- The Cats lost captain Joel Selwood to a hamstring injury early in the match
Amid fears the return of larger crowds at Perth Stadium may spark a coronavirus outbreak in Western Australia, the Magpies won a low-scoring affair 8.9 (57) to 5.5 (35) in front of just over 22,000 spectators.
The venue is set to host a larger crowd — but capped at 30,000 — on Sunday when the Eagles and Dockers contest the Western Derby.
The loss was costly for the Cats, with captain Joel Selwood forced from the field with a hamstring injury during the opening quarter.
Collingwood forward Jordan De Goey, who missed last week’s win against Hawthorn after being charged with indecent assault over an alleged incident from 2015, was the major difference as he booted five goals for the Magpies.
Down by 14 points at the final break the Cats cut Collingwood’s lead to eight points early in the final term when Gary Rohan took a juggling mark then goaled from 50 metres out.
But it was De Goey who quickly halted Geelong’s hopes of a come-from behind victory when he halted their momentum with a 25-metre soccered goal.
It came from a stoppage deep in the Geelong backline — after defender Mark Blicavs spilt an easy chest mark over the boundary line — Blicavs’ error and then the taking of a chance by the ‘Pies was indicative of the night for both sides.
Brodie Grundy dominated the ruck contest for Collingwood to finish with 46 hit-outs, while Adam Treloar (34 disposals, 11 clearances) and Scott Pendlebury (24 disposals) were prolific through the midfield.
Patrick Dangerfield (32 disposals, 10 clearances) battled hard for the Cats, but they struggled to cover the early loss of Selwood.
Defender Jordan Clark, who was playing his first match since round one, appeared to sustain a dislocated right shoulder after sliding to the ground alongside Grundy in the third quarter.
Magpie Isaac Quaynor was lucky to escape injury after slamming into a plastic chair and the boundary fence during the third quarter.
A pitch invader late in the match added extra drama, but he did not come close to any of the players.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley swung a late change ahead of the match, dropping the out-of-sorts Mason Cox for John Noble.
Perth Stadium officials spent Thursday putting last-minute preparations together for the encounter between the Cats and Magpies, which was staged while the teams are still serving 14 days of quarantine.
Under WA’s phase four restrictions, 30,000 spectators — half the stadium’s capacity — are allowed to attend AFL matches, meaning every second row will be empty.
A number of COVID-19 safety measures have been put in place, including spraying disinfectant on footballs kicked into the crowd.