Round 6 – Collingwood v Richmond: Playing the champs (Floreat Pica Society)

 

by Dave Nadel

 

Last year Richmond won their first flag since 1980. Which meant that Sunday’s match between the Pies and the Tigers was the first time we met them as reigning premiers since 1981. In 1981 the match was promoted as Collingwood’s revenge because Richmond had defeated the Pies (comprehensively) in the 1980 Grand Final.

 

Collingwood took that revenge by 55 points and finished the round on top of the ladder. Richmond subsequently failed to make the Finals.

The situation was very different last Sunday. Collingwood had played no part in Richmond’s dramatic premiership last year; we weren’t even in the Finals (for the fourth consecutive year). However the match was promoted as a test of Collingwood’s improvement. We had won our previous three games, the last two very impressively. Richmond was on top of the ladder and was clearly the benchmark of the competition.

 

As a definitive match the circumstances left something to be desired. Both teams had played in hard games for the Anzac Round. Richmond on Anzac Eve, five days earlier, Collingwood on Anzac Day 20 hours after Richmond. At selection, the Tigers replaced three players from Tuesdays game with three premiership players. The Magpies replaced two players with Chris Mayne who hadn’t been considered worthy of selection since Round 3 last year and Jarryd Blair who had played the first five games this year in the seconds. On the Sunday, Tom Langden was a last minute withdrawal and was replaced by rookie Flynn Appleby playing his first game.

 

However I thought for the first three quarters it was a definitive match. The game was played at a cracking pace and was pretty even. There were a lot of skill and judgement errors by both sides but they were due to pressure rather than poor play. Many of the pundits have explained Richmond’s flag last year as a result of the Tigers’ ability to subject their opponents to extreme pressure and disrupt their natural play. For the first three quarters both sides applied pressure and Collingwood stood up to Richmond.

 

Early in the third quarter, James Aish, who had been playing quite well for the Magpies, limped from the field. The problem was not so much that Aish was missed as a player. The problem was that that dropped Collingwood down to three rotations. In a normal game that would not have been decisive. In a game played after a four day break, played at the pace and pressure that both sides had provided, it was crucial.

 

By the last quarter the Pies started to tire badly. The best team won, but Richmond was not a seven goal better team. If the match had been after both teams had had a seven day break the Tigers to would probably have won by two to three goals in the final minutes of the game.

 

Some general comments:

Richmond are the real deal. The Bulldogs may have followed their emotional 2016 Premiership with a disappointing 2017 season but the Tigers are playing as well as they did during last year’s finals and barring injuries to key players (Martin, Riewoldt, Rance, maybe Caddy) they will clearly be a contender for another flag.

 

Collingwood actually have improved substantially from last year. Our performance in this match would have beaten almost anyone but Richmond and we have Elliot, Adams, Wells, Moore and possibly Fasolo to come into the team. We are playing a different and faster style of football than we have previously under Buckley.

 

Horsbrough votes:

3 votes – Adam Treloar

Defied pressure not only from his Richmond opponents but also from the Tigers’ fans who have never forgiven his choice of Collingwood over Richmond. He was everywhere and constantly moving.

 

2 votes – Matt Scharenberg

Very good game in defence. Finally fully fit and showing why he was our first draft choice all those years ago.

 

1 vote – Tom Phillips

Won lots of possessions and was a very important link player.

 

Extremely unlucky not to win votes:

Jeremy Howe – took some great marks and repelled several Tiger attacks.

 

Scott Pendlebury – played a great Captains game

 

Unlucky not to win votes:

Steele Sidebottom, Jack Crisp, Will Hoskin-Elliott

 

Other mentions:

 

I thought that Cox had a good first half. Brodie Grundy played well (as usual) but his opponent (Nankervis) finished the game amongst the Tigers’ best players. Aish played well until injured.

 

When Lynden Dunn came to Collingwood a Melbourne supporting mate of mine told me that “Dunn is a good player if you can cope with his regular brain fades.” I hadn’t seen any evidence to support this until Sunday. Dunn’s crunching of Higgins after he had kicked a goal, directly in front of an umpire leading to Higgins kicking a second goal, was a brain fade of the first order. If I had been doing the DRs rather than the Horsbroughs I would have given Dunn three votes. Let’s hope it was an aberration and we won’t see that again.

 

Go Pies

 

 

Comments

  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Ambivalent about this result, Dave. We played well for 3 and a half quarters and if we had Reid and Aish …who knows? These injuries really have to be dealt with if we are going to win games like this. Been a recurring theme in Buckley’s tenure.

    You brought back a wonderful memory of that 55 point Vic Park drubbing. I was lucky enough to be there and witness one P. Daicos slot through 9 goals as he ran rings around Richmond’s defence, which included Mick Malthouse.

  2. Dave Nadel says:

    I share your ambivalence, Phil.

    I don’t blame Bucks for the current round of injuries. It seems to me that we had an unacceptable level of injuries when Bill Davoren was High Performance Manager but he is now gone, Reid and Elliott have been injury prone for years. That is why I would have preferred that the Club drafted another forward last year (although you can’t complain about drafting Stephenson). Cox gets better every week, but if we are going to play Moore at Centre Half Back then we need a potential substitute for the perennially injured Reid at Centre Half Forward.

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