AFL 1st Elimination Final - West Coast v Collingwood
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 03: Jamie Elliott of the Magpies celebrates the win during the 2020 AFL First Elimination Final match between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies at Optus Stadium on October 03, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

2020 has once again served up a weekend of pure, unadulterated drama in the football world.

No game was arguably more remarkable than that of Saturday night’s blockbuster at Optus Stadium between the Eagles and Pies.

In one of the club’s greatest finals performance in living memory, Collingwood somehow clinched the match by a single point as West Coast were left bewildered.

Many dubbed this match as unwinnable for Nathan Buckley’s side, and rightly so.

WA Police were “adamant” that there could only be one person to each room at the Collingwood quarantine hub, meaning that some personnel were forced to stay out the back in campervans.

As the Pies could only quarantine for a week instead of the full 14 days because of scheduling, they were considered “dirty”, something that Eagles fans were quick to remind them of.

Casting aside the subpar living conditions, the odds were well stacked in West Coast’s favour.

Adam Simpson’s side had gotten back all their stars – bar Elliot Yeo – who was ruled out for the season with a groin injury.

Meanwhile, the Pies only gained back Chris Mayne, with Steele Sidebottom out for the season along with their other injured stars who have been absent for most of the year.

Throw a hostile Perth crowd of around 33,000 into the mix, and Collingwood were up against it.

But finals are a different kettle of fish, and the big boys stepped up to the plate.

The often-maligned Mason Cox once again came up huge, with the Texan kicking three first quarter goals, including two in one minute.

There is no doubt Adam Simpson and his players would have been quivering in their boots, praying that they did not suffer the same fate as Richmond did in their 2018 preliminary final.

However, the Eagles weathered the storm and got their game together through the usual avenues, with Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy getting into it as the match wore on.

But when the Eagles were at full pelt, Collingwood weathered the storm, and didn’t ever seem to suffer the consequences.

The largest margin that the Eagles held was seven points, coming in the first ten minutes of the match.

When it mattered, the Pies stood up. Two stunning but crucial goals from Brody Mihocek and Jordan De Goey in the final term secured them an unlikely win.

Many, including us, have proclaimed that the Pies don’t get enough goals from their forwards and would fail to kick a winning score in finals.

But on Saturday night, ten of their goals came from their forward line, with Cox, Mihocek and De Goey chipping in with several each.

Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and co. had a tough time trying to deal with the Pies attackers, and defenders going up against them will have to be one step ahead should they want to tame them.

With this, the landscape of the finals series has changed – drastically.

Despite the Eagles less than ideal finish to the year, they were still tipped to push deep into October.

Now, the Pies have crashed the party and are looking like they could take the Eagles spot as a genuine threat, with their semi-final opponents in Geelong having been a source of fortune for them in the past.

Last year’s qualifying final at the MCG between the two clubs saw Collingwood run out victors, whilst their contest during this season saw the same result.

The Pies would be confident that they can upset anyone at anytime after Saturday, and there is no doubt that Chris Scott’s side would be wary of the damage that they can cause.

So, are Collingwood a dark horse for this year’s flag? Let’s see their potential run in.

Next week as we know it’s the Cats, and there is every chance they could knock them off based off of last week’s performance and their history together.

Should they do it, it will be a trip to The Gabba to take on Brisbane in a prelim, who are coming off a spirited win against the Tigers.

The Lions pipped the Pies in their round 15 clash, running out eight-point winners, but, as the age-old adage goes, we should expect the unexpected.

If Nathan Buckley’s side heads into their remaining matches with the same hunger and tenacity that they showed they could bring to the table, then they will be more than a handful.

The last time that a team from outside the top four won the flag was the Dogs in their famous 2016 flag and after all the curveballs this season of seasons has thrown, Magpies fans have every reason to believe that they can go all the way.