Only in 2020.
There will be no other year like it, and with good reason.
Curveball after curveball is being thrown at the AFL with tonight’s 5.6.36 apiece lowest scoring match of the century draw the latest twist in footy’s return.
At one point, Richmond looked certain to run over the Pies but goals came at a premium all night and the Tigers struggled to get scoreboard value for territory when it mattered most.
With a minute on the clock, Richmond sent a last ditch bomb into their forward 50, Collingwood fists sent the Sherrin skyward on multiple occasions as the footy-starved nation waited with baited breath. The ball landed safely and narrowly skipped away from yellow and black hands.
Players and officials took a knee pre game in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement
Leaving Collingwood one final chance to run the gauntlet. Callum Brown was relatively isolated in the forward 50 but the do-or-die kick outstretched his desperate grasp by mere metres, skipping over the boundary line and robbing his chance at after the siren glory.
Taylor Adams, Tom Phillips, Steele Sidebottom and Callum Brown goals gave Collingwood a 4.1.25 to 0.1.1 lead at quarter time. The 81 day COVID-19 invoked lay-off was evident, with the footy sloppy and decision making poor – even Dustin Martin looked lost with ball in hand at one stage.
Collingwood being the quicker of the sides to adjust to now foreign match conditions laid the flimsy but two-point worthy foundations that would prevent the reigning premiers from a 2-0 start to their campaign.
A Tom Phillips goal six minutes into the second quarter would be their last of the night as Collingwood went over two and a half quarters without a goal, only scoring three behinds in the second half.
Richmond didn’t fare much better, kicking the only two goals of the second half themselves. The second of which coming after Jack Higgins was paid a near-impossible-to-judge goal line mark on the stroke of three quarter time. The subsequential goal giving Richmond a crucial momentum boost going into the final term.
Both sides were left to rue plenty of rusty errors, none more so than a Jack Riewoldt surety from 35 metres out. The kick looked like it was just sliding in except it quickly became apparent the distance had been grossly misjudged, marked on the goal line without a single Richmond body in sight.
Champions Dustin Martin (left) and Scott Pendlebury (right) in the thick of the action
That bizarre passage of play serving as a great representation for the uncharacteristic contest. The standard will only improve as players get back into the swing of things, but at least we have footy on our screens again.
Young Pie Josh Daicos was a standout down back, tallying 24 disposals and five intercept possessions. Other major ball winners were Scott Pendlebury with 31 disposals, Steele Sidebottom with 27 and Bachar Houli with 26.
Tom Lynch lead the goalkicking with 3.1, Tom Phillips with 2.1. In his extraordinary comeback game from brain surgery, Jack Higgins picked up 1.1 and 12 disposals.