AFL Preliminary Finals – Sydney v Collingwood: Not Quite Good Enough (The Floreat Pica Society Votes)

Greetings all

It is my unfortunate duty to cast the final Danny Roach votes for the season.

The emptiness of a season-ending finals loss is as familiar as it is bitter, and is in this instance compounded by the confined spaces of a cheap hotel room. I think that I’m handling the defeat OK, but I may have been overenthusiastic in explaining to the occupant of the neighbouring room at 1am that the walls are paper thin and that the telephone will convey his voice, he doesn’t have to generate the volume required for the message to transmit.

A disappointing result, a game in which we were comprehensively outplayed, and where again, our pluck far outweighed our polish.  We were second in most categories, most notably contested possessions, and, other than for ten minutes either side of three quarter time, the game was played on the Swans’ terms.  The week’s break is a massive advantage, and they looked sharper, both in tight and hurting us on the spread with their outside runners, notably Jetta and Rhyce.  They used numbers to gang up on Joll, curbing the influence he had in the first two finals.  The decision to allow Reid to be repeatedly dragged to the defensive goal square by LRT was puzzling, robbing us of his marking and counter-attack and pushing both Brown and Taz, neither of whom are blokes who want to kick the ball much, closer to half-back.

I’m not one for vitriolic end-of-season post-mortems.  This was a season where a lot of things went wrong – four knee recos, two shoulder recos, the Cloke saga, the Swan incident, the continuing comments from and speculation about Mick, and of course, having to deal with the death of a recent former player during a finals campaign.  Fourth is pretty right for us – we were gritty, and eked out some really tough victories against contenders including the Crows and Swans away and the Eagles and Cats (twice) at home.  We also got a chance to look at a lot of fresh talent and some of it is exciting – newbies in Elliott, Seedsman and Paine all look long-termers, as does the much-improved Lachie Keeffe, whose absence really hurt us.  He looks a long-term key defender, but in the short term the Leigh Brown role beckons.  There are some others that are maybes, including Sinclair.  Beamer and Sidey both took the next step in moving from forwards who occasionally go into the midfield to legitimate first-choice midfielders who can also go forward and score.  Both could have done with a break in the latter part of the season, but couldn’t due to the injury situation.

On the flip side, when we played the Hawks we didn’t look in the same league as them with their spread of classy ball users and dangerous forwards.   Overall we lacked polish in our ball use, didn’t adequately replace either Leon or Leroy and were hurt by Ball’s absence, especially against the sides with multiple tough inside mids, notably Hawthorn and Sydney.  We were much more easily scored against and less potent offensively.  From mid-2010 sides feared us, and from about round 15 this year they no longer do.  We are around the mark but no longer are the standard that others are chasing.

To the DRs – there were plenty of contenders, but the votegetters are as follows :

3 – Sinkers – ended the season as he started it, poorly.  Had absolutely no impact and lacked touch.  Was outmarked a couple of times when better body use was required to force a contest, and recorded no tackles. For a defensive forward that is a damning stat.  Did show a fair bit in the middle of the season, but needs to work on his touch and his kicking.

2 – Krak – his comeback was one of the good news stories of the year, culminating in his four goal performance against the Hawks, but this wasn’t his night. He was one of a few for whom the short break posed additional challenges.  Took a great mark early but wasn’t really a factor, and didn’t get on the scoreboard or set up other scoring opportunities

1 – Toovs – I really like Toovs as a bloke who has height, speed, courage and can play on opponents of different sizes. He did a great job on Jetta the first time around, and tried hard but struggled this time.  His worst moment was when he joined the Phil Manassa club (refer the 1977 drawn GF for younger members) in the third quarter, admittedly under great pressure, handballing inside and missing, straight to his very grateful direct opponent who popped it through for a goal.  He has very little offensive impact.

A number of others were close to the votes.  Fas was in pole postion for much of the game after a third quiet performance in a row, but finished the game strongly to play himself out of them.  I reckon his role might have changed when Krak returned, and he struggled to adjust.  Swanny had a lot of the ball but his ball use was atrocious, and Sharrod was horrid for nearly three quarters, but was one of the blokes who lifted to give us a sniff early in the last quarter.

Finally, farewell to Taz – the return of the prodigal son has always been a pretty good yarn, and it was great to see him finish his career back in the black and white earning respect for his input.  A great shame he didn’t finish his career as a premiership player, but he’s in good company.  I wonder whether the old Taz or the new Taz will turn up for Mad Monday.

I look forward to your input and hope to see you at the Michael Horsburgh Medal count and dinner on 6 October.

Floreat Pica


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