AFL Round 1- North Melbourne v Collingwood: The kids are alright

Easter Sunday and it’s great to be back in the big smoke to see the Pies in action for the first time in 2013. I arrive at Etihad Stadium with my mate Boonie just before the teams run out. We haven’t timed it all that well given we have only General Admission tickets and find ourselves right at the top of a packed Eastern side of the ground with a concrete protrusion slightly blocking our view of the Coventry End goal posts. We look to the Western side of the ground and see many spare seats in the Reserved seating section. We settle with our position for now and are dismayed to learn that in addition to Dayne Beams, Heath Shaw is also a late withdrawal. But there is something special about being there for a debutant Magpie and we can say we were there for the first appearance by Josh Thomas, Sam Dwyer and Jack Frost. As well as the Collingwood debut of veterans Quinten Lynch and Jordan Russell.

The first half was a tough, hard contest played at the frantic pace associated with a Round 1 fixture. Pendles and Swanny play like Pendles and Swanny always do. A newly svelte Harry O’Brien has a cracking first half, taking some good marks across half forward and giving good run off the wing. His loss of a few kilos seems to have taken a few metres off his kicks though, not making the distance a couple of times from 55 metres which used to be easy for him. Andrew Swallow is brilliant for the Roos, I had considered him a very good player but he looks elite tonight. Lindsay Thomas continues the success in recent years of small forwards against the Pies, kicking 3 first quarter goals and looking every bit like he could tear the game apart. We take a 2 point lead into the main break.

Half time and after hearing about the great performance of Russell Morris at half time of the Richmond v Carlton game I’m hoping for something similar at this match. Kangaroos fan Tim Rogers would have been ideal. But no, we got nothing. In retaliation Boonie and I decide we will sneak over to the reserved seat section for the second half. We have no problems and find a nice unoccupied area to sit. And we can clearly see the Coventry End goalposts.

We dominate the 3rd quarter but are only 21 points up at three quarter time. Boonie and I would have liked to have been at least a couple more goals up at the final break with Johnson and Reid out injured and North being a very good team. We commented throughout the first half about how quiet the crowd was. Very unusual for a Pies game and it seemed like there were more North supporters there. In our new position there was a very vocal Pies fan behind us who continually got the players names wrong when calling out encouragement. Such as calls of “Go Maxy” when Brent Macaffer had the ball, “Great work Steele” when Marty Clarke pumped the ball forward and “I really like this kid Elliot” when Sam Dwyer got his first few possesions. He kept us very much entertained. The game needed a villain and it got it’s Lex Luthor when Lindsay Thomas took out Ben Reid with a bump that saw the Collingwood Centre Half-Back out for the rest of the game with a head injury. Whether the bump was fair or not it galvanised the Magpie fans who routinely booed Thomas when he gained possesion or just was interchanged. Our mate behind us booed Daniel Wells at one stage when he gained possesion in front of us, when Boonie informed him of his mistake he just said “well they look the same”. He quietened down a bit after that.

The Pies kicked the first two of the last quarter and we looked home but North rallied with 4 straight goals to get within 10 points before the comeback kid Macaffer sealed the result with a goal against the run of play. Goldstein, Wells and the sub Liam Anthony were superb in the Kangaroos comeback and whether or not the Roos will be top 4 contenders they certainly will be hard to beat this year. Plenty of positives for us, Cloke back in form, Lynch playing his role perfectly up forward and in the ruck and kicking 2 goals while not getting in Cloke’s way, Elliot and Sinclair showing awesome forward line tackling pressure and Nick Maxwell continuing his form from last year which personally I thought was better than his All-Australian year of 2010. The first gamers were very good too, Josh Thomas 18 possesions and 7 clearances in his overdue debut, Jack Frost showed he could play a role down back and when Sam Dwyer was subbed on he showed great skill and will be a hard man to drop from this team.

It’s always an enjoyable drive home for Boonie and I after a good win, though we discussed our concerns over where D.Thomas, Beams, Shaw, Fasolo, Ball, Young, Krakouer, Didak, Keefe, Paine, Seedsman, Hudson and Williams would fit into this team. Good problem to have, though we are taking it one week at a time. Looking forward to Carlton next week back at a proper ground, the MCG, our two losses to them last season hurt more than any other game we lost, hope we can turn it around. Especially with Grumpy Mick in charge of our biggest rivals.

Votes: 3. Scott Pendlebury   2. Dane Swan    1. Andrew Swallow

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. A lot to like about Dwyer and J Thomas, Luke. Jack Frost… a goer who tried really hard but my heart was in my mouth every time he went near it. Lynch had a fantastic 2nd half.

    I really gave us little chance at qtr time. Even at 6 goals up I didn’t think we were safe given we were out on our feet. Hopefully it’s the kind of win that later we’ll look back on as the ‘springboard’ which set the tone and spirit for the season.

  2. Yes Frost needs a bit of work on his kicking and decision making Jeff, but will be a good back up for Brown and Reid. I too never felt safe during the game, especially at the end when North finished strongly.

  3. DBalassone says:

    A good win considering all the outs, although it’s worth mentioning that our 5 most crucial players were out on the paddock i.e. Swan, Pendlebury, Cloke, Jolly and Reid (for 3 quarters). How good was Cloke? I thought his ability to take contested marks on a quality opponent was the difference between the 2 sides. Yet when I look at the stats sheets, it says he only took 2 contested marks! Either a misprint or a lazy statistician. Nathan Brown also did a great job on Petrie. Great to see Harry let loose on the wing. This move should have happened 12 month ago. (Can’t believe he was used on Betts and Rioli last year).

  4. John Sandy says:

    What is it with the seating at docklands?

    A good win especially given the circumstances

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