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Finals flashback: 2006 Elimination Final

Freedom in a Cage | Bubba's 300th Game Rohan Smith talks about his 300th game on the Freedom in a Cage podcast

Mick Malthouse’s Magpies launched a ferocious attack in the opening minutes of the 2006 Elimination Final, aimed at intimidating a Bulldogs team lacking in finals experience.

It had been six seasons between finals appearances for the Dogs, and eight years since their previous finals win.

The Dogs trailed by 21 points during the first quarter, and a loss would have signalled the end of 299-gamer Rohan Smith’s decorated career. 

“I'd made the decision about six weeks prior that I would retire, and I needed to play every single game and two finals to play my 300th.  We had to win a final,” Smith said.

And they did.

Rodney Eade’s Dogs piled on 10-straight goals after quarter time to open up a 56-point lead, running the Magpies ragged, before they eased to a 18.13 (121) to 11.14 (80) victory.

Scott West (36 disposals, seven marks, five tackles), Matthew Boyd (29 possessions) and Daniel Cross (32) dominated through the middle of the ground, while the run of Farren Ray (two goals), Ryan Griffen and Adam Cooney (three goals) was influential.

Brad Johnson, the Dogs’ leading goalkicker in 2006 (74 majors), managed just the one goal against Collingwood’s Simon Prestigiacomo, but his work in the forward line was aided by a total of nine goalkickers, including veteran Brett Montgomery, who walked away with four goals for the game.

Montgomery demonstrated great courage after being knocked out by Brodie Holland in an off-the-ball bump in the opening seconds of the match.

The Dogs’ fairytale start to the 2006 finals series ended in a semi-final loss to West Coast in Perth the following week.  The Eagles would go on to be Premiers.

Smith, in his 300th and final match, was hoisted on to the shoulders of Chris Grant and Brad Johnson, marking an end to his playing career.

“It was pure emotion, just to think that my footy career was finished.  Getting carried off and walking down that race at Subiaco for the last time was really, really emotional.  I thought, I'm not going to feel this ever, ever again.”

It may have been over a decade since that day, but it still sits fresh in Smith’s mind.

First Elimination Final – September 10, 2006, MCG
Western Bulldogs 18.13 (121) defeated Collingwood 11.14 (80)
GOALS: Western Bulldogs – Montgomery (4), Cooney (3), Robbins (3), Ray (2), Gilbee (2), Johnson, Smith, Minson, Giansiracusa.
Collingwood – Tarrant (3), Holland (2), Licuria, Rusling, Rocca, Egan, Lockyer, Fraser.
Umpires: B. Allen, S. Jeffery, H. Kennedy.
Attendance: 84, 284