AFL Round 1 – North Melbourne v Collingwood (FPS report): Footy’s back!

By Paul “Stork” O’Connell

Footy’s back! A typical Easter long weekend…cloudy skies and moderate temperatures. The eternity of round one continued with our game, and it is still not over yet. A win for the Suns and a good showing by GWS will have league bosses licking their chops. Amazingly the first 3 games of the round were won by teams who let their opponents kick the first 3 goals. When the Doggies kicked the first 3 against the overly fancied Brisbane Lions it seemed the strange trend may continue. But it was not to be as the Dogs were on fire and put a great performance.

It seemed like a long off season for the AFL and for the Pies in particular. Too much media sensationalising, too many footy shows, too many journos, and too many stories of debatable importance. We recycled some experienced players with Lynch and Russell coming straight in along with 26 year old Sam Dwyer making his debut. And then with Beams and Shaw pulling out before the game, another 2 on debut. I did not look at odds but we must have gone in as underdogs which is usually a good thing for the Pies. As has been pointed out in FPS and the media we lack class and goal kickers on the forward line with Fas, Krak and Dids all injured or underdone. Following Paul McKay’s pertinent comment about Buckley’s dilemma of getting the balance right between defensive forward pressure and attacking flair I heard on the radio yesterday Elliott kicked 6.11 last year and Sinclair 14.20. Is there a place for them both? But having said that some of their defensive efforts yesterday were superb and gifted goals to others.

The game was very even and played at a frenetic pace for much of the first half, and it was no surprise to see a difference of 2 points at the main break. Our experienced players lead from the front with Swan and Pendles getting plenty of it and Sidey doing some classy things. Despite a couple of stuff ups, the clearance work of Josh Thomas was impressive. Cloke was surprisingly out bodied a few times in the first quarter – more bad timing than lack of strength and he got better as the game wore on. Harry looked rejuvenated on a wing, covered lots of ground and gave a marking target reminiscent of the days of 2 other handy wingman from the 80’s in Brown and Millane. Toovey was a standout in the first half, despite the goal kicking Thomas maybe being his opponent.

You just felt the game could not continue being so even and that one team would kick away. Well it happened and it was us and it was emphatic. A dominant third quarter with 4 goals to 1 was fantastic to watch. With Johnno subbed off, our 3rd debutant came on and for a while in the 3rd quarter Dwyer was on fire (someone had to say it first). The backs held up superbly with the skipper solid all day, Frost doing some nice things after an uncertain start, and Brown continuing to keep Petrie out of the game. A sickening clash clash of heads saw Reid go down but eventually jog off after lying on the ground for quite a while. A speccy from Swan who capped it off with a goal brought the house down.

We were 21 points up at 3/4 time but still had plenty of work to do. With 5 new players in the team, Johnno and Reid out of the game and several players tired or cramping, our inability to rotate took its toll. Apparently when Sinclair went off with cramp we only had one interchange in a period of 6-7 minutes. When our lead went under 2 goals we dropped a few extras down back and steadied well. A long kick from the teeth of goal by the Sack, a strong mark by Harry, a quick hand ball to an unlikely Brown bouncing through the corridor, a long wonky kick to Macaffer …. and a goal! Game over.

It was a truly great win and a great way to start the year. It was a team performance with lots of good players and good performances overall from the 5 newbies. Lynch was impressive with 2 goals, some shows of strength and a good work rate. Russell recovered well after a heavy knock early. All 3 debutantes showed something. Our A graders and experienced players all played and lead well. Jolly was better around the ground than in the middle but was very serviceable all day.

 

Votes for the Horsborough Medal

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3 to Pendles – great first half, cool, smart, took some good marks and kicked a goal, and kept going

2 to Harry – looked reborn

1 to Swan – hacked a few early but kept getting it, took some strong marks and steadied us down back at the end

 

Cloke and Sidey were also very good along with many others.

 

Bring on the Blues!

 

Comments

  1. John Sandy says:

    Elliot and Sinclair will want to do everything right with macaffer back and fasolo. Didak and krak all returning soon

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