June 23, 2024

Craig McRae couldn’t contain his excitement after Collingwood’s thrilling victory over Carlton. The Magpies’ coach wasted no time in reliving Nick Daicos’ match-winning goal, immediately pulling out his phone in the change rooms to watch the moment again.

The game-winning play unfolded from a forward-50 stoppage, initially chaotic with players scrambling for possession. However, a well-timed tap from Harvey Harrison redirected the ball into Daicos’ path, igniting the MCG crowd. Daicos, displaying exceptional anticipation and speed, seized the opportunity and sprinted towards goal. His spectacular snap finish, with just minutes left on the clock, sealed the victory for Collingwood, leaving McRae and his team in awe of Daicos’ talent.

Nick Daicos kicked the winning goal in the Magpies’ win against the Blues.

Daicos, already dominating the match, solidified his status as the standout player of the game. His heroics ensured Collingwood secured their first win of the season, lifting the team’s spirits after a challenging start to their premiership defense.

Reflecting on Daicos’ performance, McRae praised the young star’s incredible intensity and exceptional talent, particularly impressed by his late-game effort and flawless finish.

Patrick Lipinski, who was trailing behind Daicos during the decisive play, described it as one of the greatest finishes he had ever witnessed, highlighting Daicos’ remarkable skill and composure under pressure.

“Both he and Bobby [Hill] have scored some fantastic goals from that pocket. Initially, I thought it missed, but seeing him celebrate towards the crowd, I was ecstatic – he’s a true star.

“His first goal was exceptional too: weaving through traffic at a stoppage and snapping it. He possesses a skill set that sets him apart from others on the field, consistently impacting games by breaking them open. I feel fortunate to play alongside him and look forward to continuing to do so.”

Before Friday night’s game, Carlton had established themselves as the AFL’s specialists in close matches. However, coach Michael Voss was quick to acknowledge Daicos’ influence, particularly in the crucial moments.

When asked about Collingwood’s edge in the dying minutes, Voss dryly remarked, “Daicos did alright… They managed to find that one breakthrough, and he demonstrated his class by finishing it, from a very tight angle nonetheless. A touch of brilliance emerged when it mattered most.”

Daicos’ stellar performance saw him tally 32 disposals, including 15 contested possessions, seven clearances, seven tackles, and seven inside 50s, alongside his two goals. His return to the midfield, in the absence of Jordan De Goey, was nothing short of spectacular.

Coach McRae singled out Daicos’ defensive efforts, which were evident from the outset, highlighting a sequence where he pressured multiple Carlton players on the wing, ultimately forcing a boundary throw-in.

“When he plays in that manner, he’s among the top players in the league. His defensive contributions were exceptional tonight, setting the tone early on. Interestingly, his offensive prowess flourished as a result of his strong defensive efforts. I’m particularly pleased with that aspect of his game,” McRae emphasized.

With an unbeaten streak of five games, including victories over Brisbane, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Carlton, and a draw with Essendon, Collingwood is riding a wave of momentum into their upcoming clash with West Coast at Marvel Stadium in a week’s time.

They have climbed provisionally to seventh place on the ladder, and the setbacks from earlier in the season seem like a distant memory.

“We’re steadily improving,” Lipinski remarked. “We’ve struggled to maintain consistency throughout a full four quarters, but this performance was pretty close to it, so it feels like a significant win.”

Nick Daicos of the Collingwood Magpies celebrates a goal during the round 8 match against the Carlton Blues.

McRae echoed Lipinski’s sentiments, acknowledging that he would have been disappointed if they hadn’t secured the victory despite amassing 61 inside 50s compared to the Blues’ 38, including a dominant 21-5 advantage in the final quarter.

“It’s a satisfying win,” the coach remarked. “A few weeks back, I mentioned that style points don’t matter, only the four points do – but tonight’s win had a touch of style to it. There were moments in our game where we clicked really well. It wasn’t a flawless performance, especially with the game tied in the final minute, but that’s not necessarily our goal … it’s a more profound victory than perhaps any we’ve had this year.”


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