AFL Finals Week 1 – Hawthorn v Collingwood: Buddy v Taz

The modern game spins and whirls. There is a game, there are games within games. And, occasionally, these days, there is still a cracking one-on-one.

The game was Collingwood v The Hawks.

The game within a game was how well Sewell and Mitchell combined to be more than two individuals. There are so many factors in how good a player is. The fact these two both get hard ball for each other, both have such great vision, blurrs their individual lines.

And enough of the stars. The fact Hawthorne’s bottom six as better than Collingwood’s is played a huge role.


But one-on-one? How good was Taz on Buddy? They were smart. They were dirty. They were proud. The invented along the way. It was more than a contest, it was drama.

Taz put the body on, the niggle, the in-your-face. The pressure that would do Rhys-Jones on Brereton proud.

He wasn’t going to hang on by the seat of his pants and hope he did well. He was going to take that big donk on!

And it worked, I reckon. In the first half, when the game was there to be won, Taz whooped him. Wore him so close he couldn’t breathe.

Buddy was angry. Kickless. Down.


He bided his time.

When he got a few touches towards the end of the second, he seemed to think, “Right. Now I’ve earned the right.” And invented.

Every kick he got after that, Buddy leaned into Taz as if a slow song was playing, 5am on the dancefloor, whispering constantly into his ear. Sweet nothings. Anything. Who knows? He turned it around, mugging the personal space of the defender, until, finally, as the game turned, and Buddy began to shine, it was Taz who kept pushing the forward away to get some air.

Soon, he was doing it after every goal, before each ball-up and throw-in. back to the action, chest-to-chest with Taz, cheek-to-cheek, whisper, whisper in the ear.

You could see the confidence swell in Buddy. See him get stronger. The anger leave. He turned a dog-fight into a comedy. Laughing all the way.

You could see Taz keep trying until the bitter end, but, in his body language, slowly give up the fight.

Buddy was on top, turning the Collingwood defender’s anger into a game.


Stats lie.

Jolly dominated the ruck, but Hale, around the ground, was just as good. When he did get fingers to the pill, it found on-ballers. When he lost, he kept front position, often roving the nullified ball.

Gibson had a corker, but that was the game within the game. The other defenders took the best, and, often, the goals against, leaving him free to be Paul Roos. To read it and roam.

Buddy’s stats said he had a corker. But Taz did his bit, and then some.


How good are inventions of the game! These things that keep it alive. I love the drama of individuals, of personalities. Buddy dry humped a snarl, and followed it up with four late goals.

He got the forward’s revenge. Had the backman screaming “Get away from me! Let me breathe!”


They call me Old Dog in bush footy, but none of us are. There’s always something new to see. And when we do, it’s gold.


  1. I’d love to have been at the ground, as I would love to have seen what David Parkin was going on about on ABC radio coverage. I could have chosen where to look.

    I reckon Sam Mitchell could have been replaced at the 26 minute mark of the second quarter and still been best on the ground for the whole night. He is a superb player, a hard-nit distributor who is so creative. I didn’t notice Sewell as much as you did.

    I prefer the Blight intuition and qualitative analysis to stats, but I see that stats serve a purpose. Did you hear how Nathan Buckley analysed the game though? There was no art in it, just numbers. Indeed it wasn’t really good analysis, just observation. I was surprised. It planted a seed of doubt in my mind. Perhaps he had decided not to give too much away.

  2. It was a great duel Matt. I had a great spot on centre wing in the stands.

    JTH, despite jingle-jangle stats talk, I think Bucks was right in saying that the Pies have improved since the last outing against the Hawks in Round 17 (which was really like 15 goal loss despite the final margin).

    Pies biggest problem (as it has been all season) is that when they turn the ball over the can’t stop the spread of opposition players streaming forward into open space – usually because our backs have “pressed” forward too hard. This allows decent scores to be kicked against us, particularly by class sides like Hawthorn.

  3. You painted an intense picture Matt. I just sat back and wondered at the pure brute strength and frenzy of the players. They say finals footy is a whole new ball game. Last nights was. Hawthorn look unstoppable. Only the Cats have enough bully in them to put a dent in, but they have to make it through a few games first.

    And watching last night is a must for all other teams like Richmond, Essendon, St.Kilda, teams who want the finals berth, have to look at the intensity and heat and pure “in your face” stuff of last night and know that that is what it will take to get that Cup. You have to be the bull at full pace.


  4. Love it, love it, love it Matt. You capture the Taz and Buddy show perfectly. Tarrant raging against the dying of the light (his own and his clubs). Buddy is not my cup of tea, but I admire his crazy will and physical brilliance. Immovable object and irresistable force – it was great theatre.
    I can’t work out what has happened to the Pies in the last month. I had them as a brilliant midfields and strong defence, with limited talls (Jolley) and no forwards. Since the Kangaroos game the mids have gone missing, and I thought Cloke (never thought I’d say it) and Krakouer (a Swannies fave) kept them in it singlehandedly last night. What has happened to Beams, Thomas and Sidebottom in recent weeks? Swan was better last night, thought still not Brownlow form – he was at least harder at it than recent weeks. Pendlebury (my fave) started like a rocket, then was overwhelmed because he got no support.
    I would love to see Alan Kohler do one of his graphs on Travis Cloke’s market value. He had been falling like Fortescue, but the last 2 weeks he has been as good as you could ever see from a key forward. Eddie will be scouring the ashtray for spare 50’s in the salary cap to keep him now. Uncle Mick will be whispering sweet nothings in Dad’s ear. Which Travis are you buying?????

  5. Jealous, Ballasone!

    Peter, which Travis? The one who plays well in finals, or the one who can’t take an overhead without first pushing his opponant. Watch for it next time.

    Still, 6 in a losing side in a final. Reckon I’d have him.

  6. Very true on the Blight perspective, John.

  7. DB, yes I know what you mean. But you have told me more about the problems in your comment than Bucks did in his summary.

  8. And may there be many more contests within the contest to come. Absolute supreme aussie rules last fri night.I agree the stats do lie sometimes zurbs but i still love keeping my eye on the smothers shepherds that are not recorded, but we all appreciate the 1%ers.

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