AFL Round 23 – Essendon v Collingwood (Floreat Pica): An ugly win

By Paul Fahey

To put a positive spin on it, we finished the Home and Away season of 2012 better than we finished 2011. We did what we had to do and if we kicked straight we possibly would have won by 60+ points BUT that may have hidden a few things that we have to work on DESPERATELY in the next week ….or four!

During the week I stumbled across the Anzac Day game on the hard drive of my DVD player so thought I might as well watch a ¼ of it as there wasn’t much on. The game was fast, crowd noise was high, the stands were packed, players were skilful and we played with direction and purpose. Fast forward to Rnd 23 and you would have sworn there were two different clubs involved – the game was played in a just over half filled stadium, skills were sloppy on both sides and we, again, looked to be second guessing our game plan. It may be the very last time I say this but ….Thank God for Travis! At times he straightened us up and allowed us to kick long with a little confidence.

Anyway….the game. It really was a pretty ordinary game – I think they can be like that when all you have to do is beat an inferior team….and not get injured!

The 1st ¼: We started really poorly, overrunning the ball, fumbling, losing our feet in contests and kicking and handballing poorly. It was no surprise that Essendon took the lead early, our onballers were getting lots of it but disposal was poor – often handballing to the feet of teammates or kicking to poor options! You could sense that we would be too good for them and in a way the players played like they sensed it too!

The 2nd ¼: See above but also add in – poor kicking for goal

The 3rd ¼: See above but also add in a fear of using the corridor!

Final ¼: See above but remove the poor kicking for goal (4.3) and add that we were lucky Essendon always kicked to the end with the fat goalposts!

In the end, a win that meant a lot on the ladder but not much in any other way barring the return to form of Travis Cloke. I thought he really was phenomenal – 16 marks when he has struggled to take any in the previous weeks and I was pretty happy with 5 goals 4. Yes 9 goals straight would be better but Travis is Travis and I’m just happy that goals outweighs points, as I also am with the team IF it happens!

Moving forward into the finals:

Positives:

Great to see Krakouer out there. He will be better for the run and just gives us something different up there. As my ten year old son said to me – he always looks for Travis when he is too far out. I had forgotten that – I’m sure that Travis has missed that this year!

D Jol: Ran around and rucked well. Plays his best footy when he pushes hard forward and did that effectively against the Bombers. A very important player against the Hawks – should destroy Hale!

Benny J – another who will be better for the run. Don’t know if his decision making is up to kicking out but good to have his run off the half back line back. Also a great stopper as Jetta will testify!

We are going into Friday’s game as marked underdogs for the first time in two years. This lifts the pressure and may allow us to take a few risks!

I think our centre circle set up on Saturday was experimental – ie tapping the ball backwards and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was with Hawthorn in mind. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Set ups specifically for the Hawks this week as we were outplayed AND outcoached last time and I know that would be eating at Bucks!

Negatives:

Still look a little flat for me but hoping for a 2002 style revival! (Maybe we can put Benny on Burgoyne??)

Kickouts and forward structure are still a concern. Seems to be no solid plan at either end. Could be time for Ben Reid to kick out!

Our back six looked VERY shaky under pressure with Nathan Brown and Ben Reid terrible in one on ones! So who takes Buddy?? Is Taz up to it?

All I know is that Hawthorn will be favourites but are DEFINITELY beatable. If we get the ball in often enough and make Gibson accountable they are very vulnerable down back. They are cocky and arrogant and will try to out muscle us – stand up to them, get in their face and hit a few targets and we are a chance. Team Selection will be very interesting – Experienced strong bodies or younger faster runners??

Bring on the real stuff – Floreat Pica!

P.S. The Rene Kink medal was awarded to someone as were the 2 and 1 votes!

P.P.S. Was it just me or was there publicity earlier in the year that Andrew Krakouer had changed his jumper to no.3 as that is what his father wore?

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