A Pie feast on several levels

The pre-season has brought many good things to Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. For the Pies the acquisition of Jolly and Ball will give further grunt and skill to an already accomplished midfield. For the Dogs the NAB Cup gave them some long-awaited silverware, while the recruitment of Barry Hall was an inspired choice.

On the local front the last few months have also seen one or two promising changes. A Thai restaurant has opened up just around the corner, offering the best food this side of Bangkok. If we win I have promised myself Thai for tea, if we lose it will be a Spartan affair- baked beans on toast. I hope we win.

I go to the game with cousin and fellow Almanacker Steve Merry. Steve specialised in philosophy at Monash and provides some welcome yin to my out-of-control emotional, black and white yang. Driving to the game we are cautiously optimistic. This is a good sign- normally one of us can see only negatives but today we feel confident about our side and chances of causing an upset. We believe that the Dogs will miss Eagleton and that Presti provides the perfect match up for Barry Hall. We also think that Brad Johnson’s truncated pre-season will assist the Pies.

The match starts with a flurry of activity before exactly 49,000 fans. In the early moments Leigh Brown is sent to our forward line and he drags the dangerous Brian Lake out of the play. Leroy also provides several good contests around the ball and sets up some early goals. The omens look good. Paul Medhurst, fresh and back from a tough 2009, kicks a great goal. He paddles the ball near the boundary, scoops it up, beats a couple of opponents, turns and kicks accurately from thirty metres out. This may just be our day. Pies’ by thirty at quarter time. I can nearly taste the Thai.

In the second quarter the Dogs mount a predictable challenge. Robert Murphy glides over the ground. He is everywhere. He beats his opponent in the air and delivers crisp, clean passes into the forward line. Up in the stands Steve and I are worried. The Pies kick a number of points and the Dogs repeatedly use their kick-ins to send the ball from end of the ground to another.

The Dogs kick six goals for the quarter. Just as I am about to ring Melissa and tell her to open the tin of baked beans, Barry Hall accidentally clips Sharrod Wellingham. It springs our players to life. Shaw, Maxwell and Didak all rush in. At least the players haven’t given up but the Bulldog tide seems relentless and our lead is whittled to nine points at the long break.

In the third quarter we slowly get on top. Both coaches resist the urge to play heavy zones and the game turns into a free-flowing affair. This suits us well. Didak kicks a couple of great goals and Leigh Brown continues to flex effective muscle in our forward line.

In the last quarter the Dogs look tired, the Pies fresh. The combination of Jolly and Fraser works well in the ruck. Dane Swan dominates with a couple of goals and a clutch of possessions. If he is the 35th best player in the competition (as per Mike Sheahan’s top 50) the other 34 must be pretty spectacular. Swannie has the best hands in the competition; he never drops a mark. Last year he also had more disposals than anyone else in the league. His fitness levels mean that he often gets better as games go on. He is a great player. Period. He is far better than 35th in the league.

In the end we win by 36 points. It is hard to see us losing to Melbourne next week, but then again with Collingwood anything is possible. Outside the ground Joffa and a legion of supporters don’t share such doubts. Joffa sings the club song in full golden regalia.

On the way home Steve gets Subway. I am tempted but I know that the Thai restaurant around the corner will still be open when I get home. And cashew chicken beats baked beans on toast every time.

Western Bulldogs    3.2    9.6    11.11    13.15 (93)

Collingwood         8.2     10.9    14.13     19.15 (129)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Hall 3, Hahn 2, Boyd, Giansiracusa, Higgins, Hill, Lake, Minson, Murphy, Picken

Collingwood: Didak 4, Medhurst 4, Davis 3, Swan 3, Anthony, Cloke, Pendlebury, Thomas, Wellingham

BEST

Western Bulldogs: Murphy, Boyd, Hall, Hudson, Cross

Collingwood: O’Brien, Swan, Shaw, Didak, Medhurst, Wellingham

INJURIES

Western Bulldogs: Morris (TBC) replaced in selected side by Addison

Collingwood: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Chamberlain, Pannell

Official crowd: 49,000 at Etihad Stadium

Comments

  1. it’s 12:36am
    i should be studying or sleep but what the heck, GO THE MAGGIES!!! :)
    Nice piece on the game David, but i have to ask, didn’t Jack Anthony’s constant dropping of marks just kill you?

    Danni

  2. Lucas Garth says:

    Baan Thai or Thai on Southern?
    I’ve been meaning to get stuck into the Baan Thai – my brother in law Gavin has done some relief work there in an orphanage, and is learning the language. I might as well learn the food.

    My promise is generally that if Collingwood loses I will have downed 6 donuts before I get on the train to go home. It generally makes my mood a sugared happy one rather than completely morose, and the wifey is happy with that (though generally she wants me to “save one” for her).

    Since Supercoach came along and I could put together my own strong team without limitations of dud centre-half-forwards or no ruckman (thankfully solved this year by the Pies) I am aiming this year to reduce my donut intake to 2 per loss.

    What would help my waist line would be more performances like that one. One of the best team performances I’ve seen from the Pies in the last decade.

    And Dani, I saw Superman take a classic mark which was one of the 3 “marks of the week”. I suggest you vote for him and get him over Cotchin.

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