The 2023 AFL season has officially come to a close after an incredible grand final. In what was such a stellar season across the board, the grand final was a showcase of the two best teams in the competition.
In front of a full house crowd of 100,024, the Magpies took home their 16th premiership, ending a 13-year drought. Although 21 years on from the narrow 2002 Grand Final loss to the Lions, Magpies fans are sure to feel relieved after toppling the team that gave them so many headaches after the turn of the century.
Questions were raised before the game for both sides. For the Magpies, their scoring was a cause for concern. In their qualifying final win over the Demons, the Pies managed 60 points whilst in their preliminary final win, they scored a mere 58.
Brisbane's MCG hoodoo was always going to be discussed. Despite winning their semi-final against the Demons at the MCG in 2022, that was only their second win in the 19 games prior to their 2023 grand-final appearance. They had not won a single game at the MCG in 2023, granted they only played there twice prior to the grand final.
Whilst previous years' grand finals have been nothing short of a demolition job of one side, Collingwood and Brisbane were neck and neck all afternoon. The largest margin of the game was the Lions' lead of 13 points a mere four minutes into the second term. From then on, it was just about goal-for-goal until the final siren.
Before the grand final, Carlton's Sam Walsh had the lead in the Zero Hanger Finals MVP but following the last game of the year, he's been overtaken. Grand final votes were worth double, and following his Norm Smith performance, Bobby Hill took home the Finals MVP award.
Hill was a standout all game and was clearly the most deserving of the Norm Smith Medal. A constant goal threat and an excellent option around the ground, Hill's performance was nothing short of stellar. With the Magpies picking him up in the off-season for Pick 43 and a future second-rounder, Hill will go down as one of the biggest steals in recent history.
Reminder: Votes are given out in a 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 system for the 2023 AFL Grand Final. With votes doubled for the last Saturday of September, the maximum amount of votes a player can record is 40.
Collingwood vs Brisbane
It was only fitting that the Pies took home the premiership in a close game. After making a name for themselves last season as the 'kings of the close finish', the Magpies managed to defeat the Lions by four points in an instant classic. The two best teams all season, the game was thought to be a thriller and it most certainly delivered.
Ex-Giant Bobby Hill won the Norm Smith Medal after an incredible performance on the grandest stage of them all. Hill won the Norm Smith unanimously after a brilliant four-goal opening half. His game was filled with highlights, most notably an incredible mark over Lions defender Brandon Starcevich. To top off the four-goal performance, Hill racked up an impressive 18 disposals and nine score involvements in the Magpies' first premiership win in 13 years.
For the Lions, Keidean Coleman was spectacular in the opening half. By the quarter-time break, the half-back had racked up 13 touches. After a stellar performance in the Lions' preliminary final win over the Blues, Coleman backed it up and managed to finish second in the Norm Smith voting. His use off half-back and ability to hit targets from just about anywhere on the ground was a standout.
Jack Crisp was massive for the Pies, kicking two goals along with 25 disposals. Crisp was played in a handful of positions, most notably through the corridor and down at half-back. His speed in transition was electric as the Pies gained some of their early season mojo back after a noticeably slower month to conclude their year.
Hugh McCluggage did everything he could for the Lions. Although he finished with a modest 21 disposals, his ball use was phenomenal. McCluggage was equal first for the Lions in score involvements with seven and booted a couple of crucial goals to keep his side well and truly in the game. Joe Daniher was the Lions' best forward on the day with three goals, equal with small forward Charlie Cameron. Daniher was the only genuine tall target as teammate Eric Hipwood was very quiet.
Jordan De Goey and Tom Mitchell were bulls in the contest. Despite De Goey only garnering 18 disposals, his two goals came at important times for his side. His final goal put the Magpies in front in an immediate response to a Charlie Cameron goal in the last term. Mitchell found some of his 2018 Brownlow form and picked up the slack for his side as De Goey was tagged by Josh Dunkley.
|Mitch Keating||Ed Carmine||Jack Jovanovski||Nick Splitter|
|10||Bobby Hill||Bobby Hill||Bobby Hill||Jack Crisp|
|8||Hugh McCluggage||Jack Crisp||Keidean Coleman||Keidean Coleman|
|6||Jack Crisp||Keidean Coleman||Tom Mitchell||Bobby Hill|
|4||Tom Mitchell||Jordan De Goey||Jack Crisp||Hugh McCluggage|
|2||Joe Daniher||Tom Mitchell||Hugh McCluggage||Jordan De Goey|
|7||Jordan De Goey||6||26|
*Votes worth 2x for Grand Final