AFL Round 15: Dogs just miss

Western Bulldogs vs. Collingwood

The blockbuster games just keep on coming. St Kilda and Geelong, Collingwood and Essendon, Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn, now to Round 15 and we see the Western Bulldogs, white hot after obliterating Hawthorn by 88 points last week, taking on a Collingwood outfit that has won six games in a row. I am worried that I won’t be able to see this game out though. After two consecutive days of getting up at 5:30 in the morning, I am starting to feel the effects of it. And I’m especially buggered after a day out with a few mates. After just getting home for my interview on the radio, I pick the Doggies to have too much run for Collingwood tonight. But I really look forward to the contest.

These are the two form teams of the competition (bar St Kilda). The Dogs have won five in a row and sit in third position with a 10-4 win-loss ratio. As for the Pies, they are in fourth spot after a six-game winning streak coming into this match. A big crowd floods into Etihad Stadium as the ball is held aloft and the siren is blown.

The first quarter is a surprise to many, including me. Dale Thomas marks and goals from a tough angle to get the ball rolling, then Scott Pendlebury receives a free kick. He goals to put the Pies 11 points ahead. Matthew Boyd quickly replies with a running goal out of the centre. Then comes a Magpie avalanche. Alan Toovey snuck forward to take a strong mark and kick his fifth goal of his career, surprising to me because he kicked three in his first match a couple of years ago against Richmond. Then Leon Davis gathered from a hit-out and snapped a brilliant goal, followed by goals to the returning Ben Johnson, Paul Medhurst and Josh Fraser after a blitzing run through the middle by the Pies. A couple of late goals to Shaun Higgins and Adam Cooney cut the margin to 22 points at quarter time, 3.4 to 7.2. Daniel Cross picked up nine touches for the Dogs while Alan Didak was one of many Pies to gather six touches.

The second quarter sees the Dogs come out all guns blazing, kicking early goals to Lindsay Gilbee on the run and Jason Akermanis after he slams one through off a couple of steps. The Pies steadied though, Tarkyn Lockyer goaled and then Medhurst snaps his second and then Dayne Beams runs onto a great Thomas handball to kick a goal on the run, extending the margin back out to 29 points. A goal to Akermanis from 40m saw it back to 21 points before Dane Swan goaled after Jack Anthony made an almost costly mistake of passing the ball off but Swan gathered the ball and put the Magpies 29 points in front at half time, 11.5 to 6.6. Swan has 18 possessions for the Pies while Akermanis has 16 for the Doggies.

The third quarter begins and the Dogs start well again with a snap along the ground that bounced through for a goal to Mitch Hahn. Davis snapped another goal over his shoulder before Robert Murphy kicked a goal after receiving from a handball, the margin 22 points. Then Tyson Goldsack, steamrolling towards goal was given the ball and goaled from 45m out on the run. This was followed by a snap goal and a goal from a set-shot to Davis, his third and fourth goals, taking the margin out to a game-high 41 points. Liam Picken kicked a big goal from outside 50 but Swan goaled after some good running by Thomas, extending the margin back out to 41 points. A late goal to Higgins saw the deficit sit at 34 points for the Doggies at three quarter time, 10.9 to 16.7.

The final quarter began and Higgins kicked his third goal on the run to cut the margin to 28 points. Then Hahn took a strong mark and goaled, followed by a huge roost by Picken that sailed through, the margin had been sliced to 14 points. Lindsay Gilbee then took advantage of a 50m penalty and goaled, followed by Hahn after an uncontested mark in the goalsquare, bringing the margin back to two points and the Doggies were right back in the game with not long remaining. I was still coming to terms with the remarkable turnaround the game had taken when Thomas took an uncontested mark after Beams slammed the ball forward. Thomas coolly slotted the goal to seemingly seal the game but Ryan Griffen had other ideas, receiving from a handball in a huge pack of players in the Doggies’ forward 50. He dodged, weaved and snapped a goal to cut the margin to just one point. The bounce in the middle with just 17 seconds to go was crucial. Will Minson needed to fist the ball forward as hard as he could. He attempted that, and missed the ball completely. There went the Doggies’ chances of winning the game, the siren sounding with the Pies in front by a point, 17.9.111 to 16.14.110. Swan and Ryan Hargrave finished on 34 possessions for the Pies and Dogs respectively.

Just like last week’s match between the Saints and Geelong, I have learnt nothing from this game, except a few negatives. The Dogs’ failed to come out and play the style of game that saw them annihilate the Hawks by 88 points last week, yet seemed to turn it on with the flick of a switch in the last quarter. The Pies played A-Grade footy for the first three quarters, and if they play like that against St Kilda or Geelong, the Pies would be just as good as those two teams. Unfortunately it all fell away in the last quarter, kicking just one goal and letting the Dogs run amok, but thankfully they steadied the ship and hung on to win. A positive for the Bulldogs, with Brian Lake again pressing his claims for the Full Back position in the All-Australian team, keeping Anthony kick-less tonight, obviously meaning no goals as well. Hargrave continues to rack up the disposals running off Half-Back, while Boyd continues to put in his stellar, blue-collar performances that he gives each week. The positives for the Magpies, Travis Cloke seems to be getting back to his best form, despite not kicking a goal. He led hard and took strong grabs. Johnson’s return was successful, kicking a goal in the first quarter and showing there was still a spot for him in the Pies’ best 22. Harry O’Brien’s run of Half-Back is a key to the Magpies’ premiership aspirations, and he put in another fine performance tonight. Also Toovey played very well, and took a strong mark in the first quarter and finished it off with a goal. He also deserves a spot in the Collingwood team. But the questions will be asked soon, with the return of Anthony Rocca, Nathan Brown and Marty Clarke, who will go out of this successful Magpie side that has not seen a loss since Round 8?

Western Bulldogs 3.4—6.6—10.9—16.14.110

Collingwood 7.2—11.5—16.7—17.9.111

Goalkickers:

Western Bulldogs-Hahn 3, Higgins 3, Akermanis 2, Picken 2, Gilbee 2, Murphy, Boyd, Cooney, Griffen

Collingwood-Davis 4, Thomas 2, Swan 2, Medhurst 2, Goldsack, Pendlebury, Toovey, Johnson, Fraser, Lockyer, Beams

Best:

Western Bulldogs-Lake, Higgins, Hahn, Picken, Cooney, Boyd
Collingwood-Davis, O’Brien, Swan, Thomas, Fraser, Toovey

Crowd:

51,382 at Etihad Stadium

Votes:

3: Dane Swan (COLL)

2: Brian Lake (WB)

1: Harry O’Brien (COLL)

Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    if Nathan Brown isnt back next week, watch the news, i will be the one getting arrested!!

    ps. im still waiting for your comment on my writeup of this game. :P

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