Floreat Pica – Collingwood v West Coast – Best Win of the Year (to-date)

At the conclusion of Saturday night’s game, West Coast Eagles players quickly showered and then headed for the airport. They would back in Perth in the early hours of Sunday, head home and then get some sleep. They adopt this strategy because after a game of football, players find it hard to sleep anyway, so they may as well use that wake-time travelling. By the time the mind has settled, ready to rest, the player can be back on their own bed. As a supporter, I have the same sleep trouble. Without the need to take a four-hour flight from the MCG to my own bed, I figure the best way of filling those hours is to re-watch the game. So it was, I returned home with the family, sent them all back to bed and settled in to enjoy again what was Collingwood’s best win for the 2012 season……to date.

On the wing, MCC side, up the back of ground level, our seats provided a pretty good view of the ground, although the precaution of booking undercover was unnecessary. The night was mild, dry – perfect for football. The party comprises two Collingwood supporting children, a Geelong-supporting wife who is perhaps seeking retribution because I barracked against her team the previous week against Fremantle, and guest-of-honour, Floreat Pica founding president Steve Fahey. My expectation was diminished. Hope rather than belief. We were coming off a hard-fought loss against the flag-favourites; our opponents off a soft 96 point win. On the positive side was the extra two days break we enjoyed between games. A negative was the white shorts.

Last year when we met West Coast in the qualifying final at the MCG, the feeling was we should win and West Coast were just looking for a good showing. This year the expectations were tipped on their head. The general forecasts of this week’s finals matches is that the teams coming from the fifth to eighth had the best chance of tipping a couple of teams out in straight sets. The previous evening Adelaide had already discounted one of these by beating Fremantle. West Coast came to win. For Collingwood, what had at various times throughout the year been a promising season, could be gone.

That forecast seemed to be on-the-money when West Coast kicked the first four goals of the game. Actually, Collingwood did kick a goal within that sequence, but apparently the AFL had introduced another two rule changes without actually telling anyone. The first one is called “the crowd appeal”. As not stated in any rule book of I have seen “if within 30 seconds of a score (by Collingwood) being registered, if the opposing supporters can make enough noise, then the umpires must go to a video replay to see if there is any opportunity to make that small section of the crowd happy again”. The second part of this unwritten rule is that even if the video is not definitive enough to justify changing the decision, and even if every one of the on-field game officials thought the original adjudication was valid, the decision can be over-turned. Thanks Giesch – you idiot.*

After a Goldsack set shot miss, Collingwood’s first goal came from a Harry O’Brien snap. “Good finisher off one step” is the astute comment from my FP colleague. The second came quickly as the centre clearance finished with a Pendles mark and goal. A Goldie poster and then the ball travelled to the other end. It was in this play-phase that the AFL demonstrated an ability to change the rules not just in the preceding week, but within the one quarter of football. West Coast’s first goal had come from Heath Shaw backing into a contest to get exactly to the fall of the ball. Apparently this is called shepherding. Then the rule changed – if a player is waiting at the fall of the ball, as Nathan Brown was, then the opposing player with no eyes on the ball is allowed to run straight at that player and first player must not do anything to protect himself. Free kick to Cox. Goal to West Coast. Jolly marking and goaling brought the margin back to nine points at quarter time.

The umpire with the Gomer Pyle haircut – and it seemed to be the same number 17 whose name I have not bothered to look-up making the serious errors throughout – continued his good form when he paid a free to Swannie. Couldn’t even get that one right when he paid it as a high tackle, when it was obvious to everyone that he had been tripped and had fallen into the tackle. We took the goal anyway. A non-paid Reid mark (#17 again) and West Coast restored their margin. A low scoring quarter had the Eagles up by eleven points at half time.

The start of the third quarter and the game took a turn for the positive as Daisy lit up the G. When Fasolo found him with a beautiful long kick to the non-obvious target, Steve commented that Daisy’s set shot record this year had been disastrous. I think Daisy heard the slur, and slotted it. A brilliant Pendles clearance finished with a Daisy snap and Collingwood lead for the first time in the game. The third came from a free kick. The lead extended when a West Coast kick-out found the boundary, and Blair made the shot. West Coast’s only goal came after the siren when Darling outmarked Toovs. The four goal to one quarter had the Pies up by ten points at three-quarter time.

Elliott replaced Didak. This was Didak’s first stint as a starting player for quite a few weeks and his input, while not outstanding at any point in the game, had waned somewhat in the third quarter. Early in the final quarter West Coast reduced the margin when Jolly gave away a free kick to Natanui. When Kennedy marked a Darling shot for goal, and goaled himself, West Coast took back the lead – but that was their final score for the match. Collingwood regained the lead when Embley completely stuffed a clearing kick and the return found Goldie who goaled. Swannie dropped a mark, recovered, and goaled and the margin was out to ten points at the thirteen minute mark. This was the final major for the match. The last fifteen minutes were a slog. Steve’s initial call over this period started as “one more goal and the game is ours” and eventually came down to “even just another point will win it now”. That point came from Sharrod. The siren sounded with the Pies winning 73 to 60.

I haven’t mentioned him in the write-up, but Ben Reid was brilliant. Played in front and marked everything. His kicking was back to 2010 standards. He certainly fulfilled the defence captain role normally played by Maxwell. Jolly was the other significant factor. Didn’t dominate the ruck but completely negated the positives that the dual West Coast rucks normally bring – the contrast with the equivalent game a few weeks earlier when Jolly was absent was stark. And it was the return of the forward pressure that was most welcome. We showed some of it against Hawthorn; in this game it was back to its effective best. West Coast forwards just did not get the opportunities – as pointed out by Bucks, WC had only nine scoring shots in the last three quarters of the game.

The midfield had come under fire for poor performance in recent games. This week they were back. Zero goals from Cloke, Dawes, Krakouer (except the one previously highlighted – which wasn’t a goal – under the new rule) and Fasolo was compensated for by the mids hitting the scoreboard as well as the stats sheet. Beams and Sidey were back towards their best. Pendlebury was brilliant with some of his clearance and around-the-ground work breathtakingly spectacular. Nathan Brown had a return to form. There were no weak links. This was a win for the ages.

The Horsburgh medal votes have been made in camera, and for the 379th time in succession, they did not include an opposition player. Extraordinary.

FLOREAT PICA

*There was actually a third new rule implemented in this game: the crowd can also appeal an out-of-bounds decision. As it was, the crowd was correct on this one, but the umpires/video review had not yet been given the authority to overturn the decision. That may well change this week.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    AF,

    I was there as well. Must have been just up from you, actually.

    Gutsy win. Stirring stuff.

    The parallels with North’s insipid effort the week before were obvious. Glaring. The Eagles started as they finished off against North and looked set to blow you away early. But, what the Pies did – that North couldn’t do or wouldn’t do – was adopt a man on man, lock down salvage job. An arm wrestle resulted for the next two quarters, but by early in the second half I thought the Pies were on top. The Pies’ ability to adapt to the situation was commendable, making North’s efforts the week before look even worse – if that’s possible.

    Swan going wide and forward also worked and Krakouer showed why he is so important.

    The Eagles’ tall forward line, which worked so well the week before, looked top heavy and awkward. The Big Unit, who shouldn’t have been playing, just got in the way and should’ve been substituted at half-time, not three-quarter time.

    Great win Pies. Any chance this week?

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    Forgot to mention: good effort by Jolly. What a difference a season makes to an aging warrior.

    Watched him during last year’s finals get toweled up by Nik Nat. He turned the tables on Saty night with a bit of guile and experience.

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    AS – Bucks coached well. Responded when Collingwood were performing poorly early. Jolly was great And while Natanui is an exciting spectacle, there are many gaps in his game. He was the one tracking Daisy Thomas into the forward 50 early in the 3rd. Lost him. Daisy received and kicked the first of his three.

    This week? Still enjoying the win to concern myself too much for the future.

    Have you noticed how quiet it is around here? I knew that Bears hibernated in winter. Didn’t know Cats hibernated in Spring. Where are they all? They could at least talk about the VFL.

  4. Great report Andrew (love the Gomer Pyle ref). What a gutsy win by the Pies. Full credit to the Eagles who’ve had a magnificent season given that Le Cras, Nicoski and (for most of the season) Kennedy have been out. Add to that the absence Beau Waters on Saturday. Throw those players back into the mix and the Eagles will be right up there in 2013.

    I think the tall timber up forward worked against West Coast in a tight, high-pressured contest like this. Probably karma, because as A.Starkie pointed out Lynch should not have been out there after what he did to McMahon last week (I can’t believe more people haven’t brought this up!). As it turned out he was totally subdued by Tarrant and eventually subbed. Funnily enough, I thought Cloke was the best big forward on the night, though the stats won’t back me up. But if you were at the game, you would have seen his work rate. McKenzie did well, it wasn’t a night for marking forwards, but Cloke just kept running, competing, bringing the ball to the ground & locking it in the forward 50. I thought he was fantastic.

  5. AF – at last we see the first of the Collingwood hubris. It took a while but it has emerged. (PS the Cats in the VFL had a very gutsy win – look out 2015).

    Meanwhile, as others have stated before me, Worsfold gets off the hook again. WC finished below last year but he still avoids criticism. All clubs have excuses when it comes to injury. They must love him out West.

  6. Great stuff AF,

    we’re a big chance in Sydney. We won without a goal from a key forward, but our ball movement was cleaner and more confident in the second half. Loving having the ‘Krak’ back as I reckon his spirit is reinvigorating the team.

  7. Very brave move by Collingwood to name a 14-year-old as it’s sub.

  8. Hats off to the Pies. As good as the Cats have been over the past 6 years, I think the Pies are the benchmark for G&D.

    There is something very special about the spirit in that club (over a a very long period of time).

  9. Andrew Fithall says:

    Sorry about the hubris Dips. Just couldn’t help myself. I watched the VFL. They turned a convincing win into a lucky save. Exciting at the end.

    Damian B – you acknowledge a magnificent season by West Coast. I am pretty sure it is in the charter of Floreat Pica that no credit is given to opposition teams.

    Lord Bogan – at this stage I will only acknowledge that this week we are in a much better position to defeat Swans than West Coast are.

    Litza – do you ever get work experience kids come along to your work? We do and we like to give them something worthwhile to do – like taking match-saving marks.

  10. Andrew- Great piece, great win!
    Litza- i didn’t know 14 was the legal age to get a tatt… :P

  11. AF, just caught up in the emotion of the moment, a great win, usually involves a great opposition….

  12. I’ve seen Collingwood supporters younger than 14 with tatts…

  13. That’s my 142nd Collingwood stereotype of the year. No that the rivalry has heated up with Mick “I Am Carlton” Malthouse, I expect to hit 500 by Christmas.

  14. Random thoughts:
    – Best game of the Finals to date
    – Pies midfield lifted enormously after a listless month. I still have a ? over Dane Swan. Only just going but the rest were terrific.
    – Obvious best were Ben Reid and Jolly. The other one for me was Ben Johnson. I have never rate him because of his awkward disposal. But he was the one doing the heavy lifting at the clearances. Underrated (certainly has been by me).
    – Can’t have Cloke. I thought MacKenzie – and Kerr – were clear Eagles best.
    – Eagles ???? is whether Cox, Kerr and Glass will still have the legs when Naitanui, Gaff, Darling, Shuey mature.
    – Pies beat us fair and square. I was more worried about Sydney next week when I thought the travel may catch up with us. I was wrong.
    – Top 4 is essential for Perth teams (not why Pies beat us this week) – finals travel is a killer. You need the home games and/or week off.

  15. Andrew Fithall says:

    Peter. If WC had won, the travel to the Sydney Friday night game would have been a major disadvantage for WC. That stuff up that has resulted in just a 6 day break at this stage of the finals – someone at the AFL should be copping a whack for the mess they have caused.

  16. Gillan McLachlan’s your man responsible for fixturing.

    If the AFL really wanted to strike a dagger at the heart of NRL, they should’ve let him go and bring them down from the inside.

    He probably would’ve taken his brother (the most maladroit and ham-handed host ever to grace a sports program, as well as a horse’s arse of a commentator) with him.

  17. Good stuff, AF.
    But don’t apologise to Dips – the only reason you could spot a zephyr of Pie hubris was that the Cat mushroom cloud had finally dissipated.
    And Litza, am totally on board the anti-McLachlan campaign. It needs its own website.

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