AFL Round 8 – Collingwood v Geelong (Floreat Pica Society): Nothing is impossible

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

I really didn’t expect that Collingwood would win this one.

Last Saturday’s performance against Freo had been appalling and over the week we had lost three more players. Shaw to a stupid suspension, Daisy Thomas to a training injury and Marty Clarke was injured as well. Even though the brilliant Luke Ball was back for the first time in over a year Collingwood approached Round Eight missing Alan Toovey, Dayne Beams, Daisy Thomas, Heath Shaw and Tyson Goldsack who would all be in our best 22; Ben Johnson and Alan Didak who would have been in our best 22 last year; Alex Fasolo and Lachlan Keeffe who if they play up to their best form of 2012 will be in our best 22 next year; Marty Clarke who is thereabouts and Clinton Young who hasn’t played an AFL game for us yet but was recruited because Hine and Bucks thought that he was potentially in our best 22.

OK, not all of these were automatic selections but despite my belief that Jarrod Witts, Marley Williams and Ben Kennedy are future Collingwood stars and that Josh Thomas is already on his way, I would have felt more confident facing Geelong if our team list had included Shaw, Beams, Toovey, Goldsack and D. Thomas rather than Witts, Williams, Kennedy, Russell and J. Thomas.

Geelong have started the season in cracking form. They seemed to have replaced the earlier premiership players with talented recruits and articles in the newspapers are now suggesting that they are the greatest team of all as their song claims. (Ridiculous! They are still quite a distance short of The Pies’ four flags in a row 1927-30 or the Dees’ five premierships and a grand final defeat in six years, 1955-60)

What I hoped for was a repeat of two nights in 2008. When we played Geelong in 2008 they were so rampant that a colleague accused me of cruelty when I took my then 12 year old son to the “G”. In fact the Pies won by 84 points and inflicted the Cats’ only defeat in the home and aways that year. Later in 2008, after a week in which Heater and Didak were suspended by the club for misconduct and the Pies’ seemed to be fading out of the finals, the boys put the week from hell behind them and beat St Kilda by fourteen points. Perhaps we could have a similar act of will tonight.

The start was perfect. The Pies swept the ball up to the forward line. Geelong’s Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartels muffed a handball and Sidebottom rushed in and kicked a goal. That was the template for the first half. Collingwood wanted the ball more. They were harder at the ball, they tackled fiercely, they forced the Geelong players into errors by denying them time and space while Pendlebury, our best player in the first half, seemed to have so much time and space that you wondered if he was working with a different clock and compass to the other 35 players.

The defence was terrific. Harry O’Brien was launching attack after attack from the half back line and marking every ball that came his way (I was surprised to read this morning that he only took nine marks, last night it seemed more like 19). Paul Seedsman was also running out of defence and linking with the forwards although his finest play was in the second half. Nathan Brown played his best game this season and Maxwell’s presence provided the leadership that our backline had been lacking during his injury. Brent Macaffer, in his new role of tagger beat Joel Selwood pointless in the first half, he didn’t even have the opportunity to duck himself into a free kick.

On the forward line and through the midfield, Sam Dwyer was magnificent. He was everywhere. He won contested possessions, kicked goals and set up goals for others, ran and ran and moved assuredly through heavy traffic as if he had been playing at an elite level for the last seven years rather than the last seven matches. He is seen as a Collingwood recruit from Port Melbourne but I noticed in the Footy Record that he began his football with the South Warrnambool Roosters where a lot of courageous footballers began their careers.

Dwyer had lots of mates in the forward half. Sidebottom, Blair, Elliott, Krakouer and Swan all contributed and Cloke won lots of possessions although he had his usual problems shooting for goal. In the first quarter Geelong’s accuracy kept them close to Collingwood’s score, by half time the Pies had a 26 point lead. But it was Geelong, and while some of the hype in this week’s papers was over the top, they are a good team and they don’t give up. In the third quarter some of their older premiership players started to get to the ball first and a couple of their young players, in particular Motlop and Christensen, got through the Pies’ defence. The one sided umpiring didn’t exactly hurt the Cats either although to be fair the fact that they led at three quarter time was due to good play rather than the exceptionally poor umpiring.

Collingwood have been losing the last quarter this year. Losing quite badly in the Hawthorn, Essendon and Fremantle games so you might have been forgiven for assuming that once Geelong got its head in front (13 points at the last break) that that would be the end of the matter. Not this time. The Magpies got back the focus that they had had in the first half. Dwyer had 13 possessions in the last quarter, O’Brien dominated the Southern side of the ground. Swan, Elliott, Krakouer and Seedsman increased their contributions. Krakouer’s final goal, from an impossible angle next to the point post, was as good as the things his Dad used to do. This was Collingwood’s day and Collingwood’s finish. The season is not over. These boys can beat anyone and think of the players still to come back before the end of the season. Nothing is impossible.

Michael Horsbrough votes.

3 votes. Harry O’Brien His best game for eighteen months, really inspiring.
2 votes Sam Dwyer Why didn’t we recruit this guy seven years ago?
1 vote Scott Pendlebury Absolute class.
Paul Seedsman really deserved a vote but I only have three to give. Andrew Krakouer and Jamie Elliott also deserve mentions.

Dave Nadel

Comments

  1. Dave – nice work. The Pies were way too desperate for the Cats. Disturbingly the Cats don’t win flags unless they beat the Pies during the year, so I’m looking forward to the re-match.

    However, I’m a bit over the Pies injury list nonsense. Most clubs have multiple players out. I know I’m bleeding over who’s missing from the Cats list at present. The best teams seem to cope better. The Pies are coping OK. And the young players coming in are sometimes better than the “names” in any event. For example, most of Collingwood’s youngsters look way better than Didak to me.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Spot on Dave, “nothing is impossible”. A win like Saturday nights really lifts everyone.
    Really liking Seedsman’s work at the moment, his pace and long kicking really adds to the team.

  3. Lord Bogan says:

    Dave, that was probably our best win under Bucks. It was a totally different mindset to the week before against Freo.

    I still reckon we will be somewhere between 6th and 8th, but if we can win 4-5 on the trot over the next month, get Beams back and have a good run, you just never know.

    I was also at both 2008 games. Victory is so much sweeter when we’re underdogs.

  4. Be fair, Dips. If you do the sums from Dave’s first para, we had 33 of our best 22 out last Saturday. And we still massacred yez by a goal.

  5. Good effort by the Pies, and an engrossing game to be at. Would have thought Collingwood might have won by more, considering (as Dave correctly points out) they only had five of their best 22 out, compared with Geelong’s Kelly, Johnson, Chapman, Varcoe, THunt, Rivers and Menzel. (I’d add Vardy to that list, but technically he was available though being nursed up through the twos.)

    Last night would suggest it was actually a supreme effort, though.

  6. Dave Nadel says:

    For the record Andrew (and Dips) my comment about missing Collingwood players was not that Collingwood was disadvantaged in relation to Geelong, it was rather a comment that Collingwood was a long way short of its best side and therefore I was concerned about their ability to beat what appeared to be the best side in the competition. Geelong after all had won seven games in a row missing five of those seven players for many of their successful games (Although I will admit that the two they lost for the Collingwood game, Kelly and Johnson are close to their best).

    After last night I am wondering if the effort put in for the Geelong game was a oncer and left them flat for the Sydney match. Very disappointing!

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