From and the Maribyrnong Leader
Reorted by Luke D’Anello
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The 18-year-old nephew of Essendon great Michael bagged six goals, including five in the second half, in the Dogs’ thumping 119-point victory at North Port Oval.

DRAFT prospect Ben Long showcased his potential as a merciless Footscray hammered Collingwood in the VFL preliminary final on Saturday.

Footscray’s Lukas Webb and Collingwood’s Lachlan Ferguson clash on Saturday. Picture:Wayne Ludbey

The 176cm Long played in defence for the Allies in the AFL Under-18 National Championships earlier this year and has scored an invite to the state combine.

Long’s ability to swiftly adapt to life in the forward half — he has booted 11 majors from six VFL senior games this year — combined with his versatility should make him an attractive option for AFL recruiters.

“These young boys have these breakout games, where they have those moments within quarters or within matches where they probably realise they belong at the level,” Footscray coach Ashley Hansen said.

“I thought (Long’s) forward-half pressure was unreal. That really set up a lot of our play early on in the match.

“Then for him to capitalise with some goals late in the game was good reward for his hard work.”

The free-wheeling Dogs displayed unrelenting pressure mixed with run and carry and a splash of panache.

It proved too much for the stunned Magpies, who conceded nine unanswered goals in the first half as Footscray established a 41-point lead at the main break.

But the rampaging Dogs piled on 11 consecutive majors in the second half and kicked 10 goals to one in the final half-hour to record a 27.19 (181) to 9.8 (62) triumph.

They will meet either Casey Scorpions or Williamstown in Sunday’s decider at Etihad Stadium as they chase a second flag in three seasons.

Footscray and Collingwood players tangle on Saturday. Picture:Wayne Ludbey

“We executed the plan really well,” Hansen said.

“I guess playing against Collingwood three weeks previously gave us a really good idea of how to go about it.

“Certainly the first quarter of that previous match highlighted what you can’t do against them, which is let them control the ball and give them time and space, particularly in the back half.

“To the boys’ credit, they were just sensational. Their intensity over the four quarters, the exclamation mark to turn it into a 119-point victory really showed a strong desire for their behaviours to carry over to next week.”

Lukas Webb was influential in the middle and iced his performance with three goals, while Mitch Honeychurch and Koby Stevens also starred.

Ever-consistent skipper Jordan Russell and Brad Lynch controlled the back half, while Tom Campbell and Will Minson combined strongly in the ruck.

The Dogs experienced an indifferent start to the campaign, winning one of their opening four games.

But with the club’s AFL list now healthier, Hansen’s side is peaking at the right time.

“With a lot of injury brings a lot of opportunities for our VFL-listed players and we could explore their potential,” Hansen said.

“Our whole squad has contributed to our team making the grand final and it is going to be really tough at selection this week.”

Hansen said midfielder Nathan Hrovat, who has battled ankle and shoulder complaints this year, would be given “every chance” to take to the field in the decider.

“Obviously at Etihad, with his ball use and creativity, he will be an important player for us if he’s right for selection,” he said.

Williamstown and Casey Scorpions will contest the other preliminary final today.