Magpies massacre Bombers to seal AFL minor premiership


Collingwood have clinched their first minor premiership since 2011 after destroying a lethargic Essendon by 70 points at the MCG in a welcome return to form.

The Magpies slammed through the first 11 goals of Friday night's match, including eight in a clinical first quarter, to completely overwhelm the bruise-free Bombers in front of 74,344 fans.

Collingwood eased up in the second-half with finals on the radar, cruising to a 16.5 (101) to 3.13 (31) victory as they finished the home-and-away season with an 18-5 record.

Despite losing three of their previous four matches ahead of facing Essendon, Craig McRae's Collingwood will still be the team to beat come September after securing a home qualifying final, likely against 2021 premiers Melbourne.

"I feel like the hunger within our group has been questionable, and tonight I wouldn't thought you could question that that part of our game," McRae said.

"We've won 18 games in this tough 24-round competition... it's a marathon, the bumps and bruises, the losses and the resilience to get up and go again."

Star midfielder Jordan De Goey and small forward Bobby Hill were back in the team after missing last week's 24-point defeat to the Brisbane Lions through injury.

De Goey and experienced midfielder Tom Mitchell were influential when the game was up for grabs in the first quarter, while lively small forward Jack Ginnivan (three goals) delivered his best performance of the season after spending an extended period in the VFL.

Captain Darcy Moore will almost certainly return from a hamstring strain for the Magpies' first final, but young superstar Nick Daicos (knee) has already been ruled out for at least that game.

Matchwinning Magpies forward Jamie Elliott was subbed out in a precautionary move with a corked thigh at the main break after kicking two first-half goals.

Essendon started their first season under coach Brad Scott in promising fashion but have capitulated in the last seven weeks, with their only two victories in that period coming against the bottom-two teams, North Melbourne and West Coast.

This smashing follows a diabolical 126-point thumping by Greater Western Sydney last Saturday that ended Essendon's slim finals hopes.

Bombers fan favourite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was subbed into his farewell game in the first quarter due to Kane Baldwin suffering a head knock.

It was McDonald-Tipungwuti's 133rd and final AFL appearance, after he made a comeback this year from retirement.

Scott was left bitterly disappointed by the finish to the season and has urged his players to let the pain drive them into 2024.

"We were just outplayed in the first quarter and the reality where we are at the moment...we've just got a heap of work to do," Scott said.

"I've said that after wins, after losses, and nothing really changes from that perspective. 

"But the last few weeks in particular has just proven where we're at."