A TICK over 24 weeks ago, Jordan De Goey was on 6am wake-up calls while working as a landscaper during a club-imposed suspension. On Saturday night, the star forward delivered in spades, grasping two clutch moments to send Collingwood into a preliminary final.

Performance against Greater Western Sydney

When Collingwood needed a spark, De Goey provided it. After two direct goal assists in a rampaging opening, the 22-year-old hobbled off momentarily with a rolled ankle. Returning and held relatively quiet for much of the second term, De Goey found himself in the perfect spot for a momentum-changing major on the stroke of half-time. He kicked the second of his three goals during the third term to stem the Giants’ flow, allowing the Pies to head to Nathan Buckley’s three-quarter time address just three points clear of their rivals.

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Having been far from influential in the Pies’ first final in Perth last week, De Goey had the chance to take his second final by the scruff of the neck. And just 55 seconds into the final term he did, cruising through traffic to find Travis Varcoe for a goal on the run – his third direct score assist. A Will Hoskin-Elliott goal was followed by a contentious free kick to De Goey, adjudged to have been held by Nick Haynes while holding the defender’s jumper. He kicked truly from 25m to send the Pies 21 points clear and on their way to a preliminary final against Richmond.

Travis Varcoe!

Perfect start for the Pies.#AFLFinalspic.twitter.com/fdU2MDOWhJ

— AFL (@AFL) September 15, 2018

Playing as the deepest forward for much of the night, De Goey spent time opposed to Matt Buntine before Nick Haynes took the job later in the match, including the last term. Every time he went near the ball, De Goey created a buzz, drawing Giants defenders as the biggest X-factor in the Pies’ front half. In a team that created 24 scoring shots and many more opportunities, De Goey’s impact was conveyed through a game-high 11 score involvements.

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High point

With just seconds on the clock before half-time, Giants ruckman Rory Lobb dropped a crucial mark deep in defence. De Goey pounced out the back, the ball sitting up perfectly as he popped through a left-foot major on the siren. It allowed the Pies to capitalise on a dominant first half and take a seven-point lead into the main break. A scuffle ensued as both sides sensed the importance of Lobb’s mistake and De Goey’s finish.

Jordan De Goey’s kicked a half-time buzzer beater before tensions boiled over after the siren.#AFLFinalspic.twitter.com/fPz8w8xYlT

— AFL (@AFL) September 15, 2018

The scare

Having missed two games in rounds 19 and 20 with a lower leg injury, the Pies held their breathe when De Goey hobbled off during the first term. Spending time down the race with what was later confirmed as a rolled ankle, De Goey returned to the field and played out the game with no concern.

De Goey limps to the bench during the first quarter. Picture: Michael Willson, AFL Photos

Low point

There weren’t many, but his set shot that ended out of bounds on the full in the second term compounded the Pies’ woes in front of goal in the first half. Marking a Jeremy Howe ball on the 50m arc, De Goey’s push for extra distance pulled the ball to the near side as he appeared to still be feeling the effects of the first-quarter ankle complaint.

The stats sheet

Q1 4 1 5 4 2 0 0.1
Q2 2 1 3 1 0 0 1.0
Q3 3 0 3 2 0 0 1.0
Q4 2 1 3 1 1 0 1.1
Total 11 3 14 8 3 0 3.2

* SA = score assists

What they said in the rooms

De Goey to Channel Seven: “I was doing landscaping and playing with the VFL, but to be in this position is unreal and the boys should be really proud of themselves.”

“I just landed on someone’s leg, but it’s good as gold now, I’ll tell you that much (on injury scare).”

Forward teammate Josh Thomas to AFL.com.au: “He played that deep forward role really well for us. He’s just so dangerous when we can get it to him, so strong and quick.

“I think the nature of any player in that role, every now and then you’re going to be starved of opportunities (last week).

“We knew it was only a matter of time that once we got the ball down to him enough, he’s such a good player he’d take his chances.

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Coach Nathan Buckley post-match: “He imposed himself and looked dangerous. (He) had plenty of supply and when we were able to get him one-out, was able to win a lot of those one-on-ones.

“He could’ve kicked a bit straighter for us… (but) a pretty strong performance from a young bloke playing his second final.”

How will he fare against Richmond?

If he plays as the deepest forward again, looms as a mouth-watering match-up against All Australian Alex Rance. Should the Pies get enough entries, De Goey will be crucial in keeping Rance, Dylan Grimes and David Astbury busy. Having missed the Pies’ last meeting with the Tigers in round 19, De Goey won’t have fond memories of his outing against the reigning premiers in the round six loss. Held to just nine disposals, De Goey recorded his equal-lowest possession match since his debut season of 2015. Averages just 12 disposals against the Tigers – his lowest against any opposition – and has kicked four goals against the Tigers. While Nathan Buckley didn’t pull the trigger on releasing De Goey into the middle against the Giants, bursts against the Tigers midfield and the prospect of going head-to-head with Dustin Martin could set the MCG alight.