Footscray peak in time for VFL grand final

VFLFOOCOL: Footscray Vs Collingwood, Footscary's Bailey Dale celebrates a goalPicture Damian Visentini

Footscray produced a jaw-dropping preliminary final performance to book its VFL grand final showdown against minor premiers Casey Scorpions at Etihad Stadium this Sunday.

The Bulldogs totally dismantled a shell-shocked Collingwood by 119 points at North Port Oval on Saturday to move through to the season decider.

Photo Gallery: VFL Footscray v Collingwood


A second flag in three seasons is now well within their reach. Bulldogs’ coach Ashley Hansen got everything he asked for in the runaway win.

“We certainly executed what we wanted to execute really well,” Hansen told Star Weekly.

“They played for one another, knew what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to go about it … and they did it really to perfection.

“They keep taking their games to another level and really exploring what they’re capable of.

“What these guys can achieve is completely up to them.”

Footscray took a 20-point lead into quarter-time then stretched it out to 10 goals late in the second quarter.

But Collingwood breathed some life into its contest with the last three goals of the second term and first major of the third.

It seemed, momentarily, there was a glimmer of hope for the Magpies, but Footscray clicked back into first gear, and motored away.

By three-quarter time, the rampaging Bulldogs’ lead had blown out to an unassailable 61 points, and a scintillating 10-goal last quarter saw the margin extend beyond triple figures.

As hefty as the win was for Footscray, Hansen said there was still a lesson to be learned before players head to a grand final.

“I felt we dropped away a little bit [defensively] in the second quarter,” Hansen said.

“The half-time message was a lot about [how] the behaviours we exhibit in the second half are the habits we want to have for next week.

“When everyone is really engaged in it, we can be really hard to break through – and for large periods of today, we were really successful.

“We knew Collingwood like to out-number at the ball, like to use their hands, and that invited opportunities to come forward and defend aggressively – our guys were up for that, stimulated by it, and created turnovers that allowed us to score and generate inside 50s.”

Footscray was lethal in front of goal, and no one more so than Ben Long.

The designated 23rd man had the best game of his rookie season, with six goals.

“Our youth, as much as they can be unpredictable, they can be really exciting,” Hansen said.

“Ben, today, I thought his forward pressure and ability to win the ball in a contested situation was outstanding.”

Ruckmen Will Minson and Tom Campbell were imposing throughout the game for Footscray. Koby Stevens, Mitch Honeychurch and Lukas Webb feasted at their feet at the stoppages, while Liam Nash set the tone with his defensive acts.

It will be a huge week at the kennel, with Footscray facing a grand final and the Western Bulldogs taking on GWS Giants in the AFL preliminary final at Spotless Stadium.

“To be able to prepare for a grand final this week, when the AFL boys are going into a prelim, makes the club such an exciting place to be in,” Hansen said. “Our two squads can really embrace one another and ride the wave.”