Round 15 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Outclassed, outfought, destroyed


This year’s season of AFL is getting thrown right up.


Geelong seemed to be the best team in the competition by far, but then stumbled to a Port Adelaide team that then lost to the Bulldogs at home. Collingwood have played poorly yet managed to win consistently. However, their performance on Saturday night signifies a team that isn’t in the form needed to win a flag.


Running around 6 days after their scrappy win over the Bulldogs on the same turf, their start only carried on their lethargic efforts. Handballs were missed. Targets weren’t hit. Tackling hands were slapped aside with immense disdain. North Melbourne, despite coughing up the first goal to Phillips, settled into a tough groove led by the hard-nut Cunnington. They should’ve been five goals up at the first break, such was their dominance in general play, except for numerous shocking misses from the usually reliable Ben Brown. They had left the door ajar for the Pies.


But the Magpies were never good enough to knock down the door and burst through. The second quarter continued to belong to the resurgent Roos. They couldn’t put the game away – more missed shots meant the Pies could stay in the contest. A De Goey moment defined the first half. He beat Scott Thompson out on the lead with pace yet spilled an easy mark. From there, he quickly regathered the Sherrin and snapped it through from 45 metres out with alarming ease. These miniscule memos of magic was sustaining them throughout the first half.


A low-scoring first half was finally broken open. The dazzling individual efforts from Collingwood players looked set to continue when Mihocek soccered a goal through out of mid-air. But the Pies learnt the hard way that a team relying on solo brilliance rather than a gritty indestructible system would never pull away as victors. Their usual fast-play that cut through the corridor with pace and dare had been lost. Some injuries to Reid and Sier hadn’t helped, but it was evident the issue had been festering for the past month. Something has to be shifted, as their current gameplay is devoid of the risk they possessed in their 2018 dream finals run.


North Melbourne smelt blood and pounced with confidence. Brown kept getting the ball and was eventually destined to snag a couple of goals. Cunnington was unstoppable in the middle, busting through tackles and dishing it off with his building muscles ready to pop out of his skin. Tarrant and Durdin kept holding off Cox and Mihocek in a titanic struggle of height and nous. Davies-Uniacke and Thomas were well-complimented by Ziebell, the combination of youth and experience working wonderfully.


At the start of the last quarter, the expectant Collingwood surge was finally cancelled out. No replying goals were to come – in fact, no goals were coming from the Pies at all. They were toothless, the loss of Stephenson and Elliott too much for Collingwood to bear. North Melbourne proved how well they can play when given the chance to be creative and pacey. No one disappointed – they were solid and then simply brilliant. Their running power out-gunned Collingwood’s, as they always had extra men at the contest. By the final minutes of the match, it was obvious the Pies were never getting a look-in. Their system had to improve rapidly to crack through a dogged Roos outfit whose desperation outweighed Collingwood’s at every turn. And this inspired approach could take them all the way to September.


COLLINGWOOD              1.3    3.3    4.4        5.7 (37)
NORTH MELBOURNE     2.7   4.8    8.14    11.15 (81) 

Cox 2, Mihocek, Phillips, De Goey
North Melbourne: Ziebell 3, Turner 2, Davies-Uniacke 2, Wood, Thomas, Polec, Larkey 

Treloar, Moore, Phillips, Pendlebury, Greenwood
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Cunnington, Pittard, Simpkin, Anderson, Atley, Thompson 

Aish (hamstring) replaced in selected side in Scharenberg, Reid (calf), Sier (concussion)
North Melbourne: Hayden (Achilles) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Haussen, Chamberlain, Whetton

Official crowd: 38,801 at Marvel Stadium




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  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Sean, I listened to the broadcast from home. Obvious the Pies had not come to play. I watched the highlights on the AFL site and couldn’t believe the lethargy of their players. Roos have their run and mojo back.

  2. There’s nothing better than seeing Collingwood knocked off. Smokie would be delighted. Apart from the Crows’ pitiful performance, a perfect weekend – Hawthorn, Power and Collingwood defeated.

  3. Sean, I was at the game, and I could not believe how flat Collingwood were on the night. I was waiting for them to mount a challenge but it never came.
    As for North, their intent was evident from the start. But for bad kicking at goal, the game would have been over even earlier.

    Yes, Fisho, delighted all right

  4. DBalassone says

    After, realising the Pies were no chance, I decided to just sit back and marvel at how bloody good Cunnington is. He just fends off tackles at will and then bounces away with twinkle toes. A gun. It occurred to me on the night that he may in fact be a better contested-ball beast than Cripps…but he doesn’t get the accolades of Cripps because he is not 6 foot 5.

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