AFL Round 23 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Last Round Blues


Collingwood vs. North Melbourne

3:20pm Sunday, September 1


I’m not sure why I bother attending these final rounds clashes.  Let’s look at Collingwood’s recent record:  a lethargic loss to Adelaide at Telstra Dome in 2007; a pathetic loss to Fremantle in 2008 which cost a top 4 spot (the only highlight being Neon Leon’s goal of the year); a 4-goal loss to the Dogs in 2009 that allowed the Dogs to leapfrog the Pies into 3rd position; a 3-point loss to Hawthorn during the Premiership year of 2010; a 16-goal humiliation at the hands of Geelong in 2011, which surely derailed our tilt at back-to-back flags.  I’m not sure our unwillingness to give 100% in such games is the best strategy on the eve of a final series.  If you want to keep your stars fresh, why not rest them altogether?

It becomes apparent in the first few minutes of this game that 50,000 have assembled to watch a glorified training run.  Barely any pressure is being applied, and as a consequence North are able to kick many coast-to-coast goals when the Pies turn the ball over in their forward 50.  Ziebell and Bastinac are looking dangerous, while up forward Black is lively and proving to be a handful for an out-of-sorts Tyson Goldsack.  Lindsay Thomas continues his fine a season with an opportunist snap from a throw-in, followed by an impressive set shot from the boundary.  Is this the same man who was labeled the Ian Baker-Finch of football in 2011?  What a transformation! Expect to see him rewarded with an All-Australian guernsey later this month.  Despite the Roos getting the hop, the Pies are able to score freely as well with Pendlebury as elusive as ever and Cloke and Reid marking everything that comes their way.  Cloke is relishing not playing on Thompson (although let’s not forget that Cloke took the honours against Thompson in Round 1).

As the game wears on, the Pies begin to gain the ascendancy.  Youngsters Thomas, Seedsman, and Dwyer are propelling the ball forward and Cloke is starting to make a late charge for the Coleman.  He is unstoppable in the 2nd term and by half-time has 4 goals from 7 scoring shots.  The Woods lead by 3 points at the main break.  Brad Scott is forced to put a couple of extra big bodies in the back 50 in the third term to combat Cloke.  This gives Reid a chance to shine and he responds with a few majors, before Didak delights his legion of fans with some fancy footwork and a goal on the non-preferred right foot.  Midway through the term the Pies have a chance to get out to a 20-point lead but they squander several opportunities.  This in the end is costly as the Roos manage to claw their way back into the contest.  Petrie is roaming far and wide as a floating marking option and the little maestro Brent Harvey is showing all why he is playing on next year.  Two late goals to Jack Ziebell put the Roos back in front at the last change.

In retrospect the last quarter is a blur to me.  This of course is an insult to the Kangaroos who thoroughly deserved to take the points in the end.  But you always got the feeling that if the game went down to the wire, North would want it more.  In the end, it was a solitary Carlton behind from the previous twilight evening that denied North a finals berth.  Had they have sneaked into 8th position, I’m convinced they could have done some damage.



COLLINGWOOD                    5.4     10.8    14.11   17.12  (114)                                                   

NORTH MELBOURNE           8.1     10.5   15.9     19.11  (125)    



Collingwood: Reid 5, Cloke 5, J Thomas 2, Pendlebury 2, Seedsman, Dwyer, Didak

North Melbourne: Ziebell 4, Thomas 3, Black 2, Petrie 2, Wells 2, Goldstein 2, Macmillan, Bastinac, Harvey, Cunnington



Collingwood: Pendlebury, J Thomas, Reid, Seedsman, Cloke, Dwyer, Didak

North Melbourne: Ziebell, Bastinac, Harvey, Petrie, Wells, Atley, Black

Umpires: Stevic, Stewart, Mollison,

Official crowd: 50,958 at the MCG


Votes: 3 Ziebell 2 Pendlebury 1 Bastinac

About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Damian, I had exactly the same thought you expressed in your opening line. Definitely not the way to go into a finals series. It was very unusual to watch the Pies play bruise free football. North were very impressive though.

    Looking for some positives, really liking Cloke and Reid together up forward, Didak’s goal was a wonderful highlight and Pendles was just brilliant, as was his 2 goals.

  2. Andrew Starkie says


    When I saw Jordan Russell out there I thought, “Oh well, the Pies haven’t shown up.’ North were hungrier, but had handful of good players out as well. You’re right about Thomas, he and Thommo will be AA. If not, it’s a joke. Jack and Boomer were great. Boomer gave Williams the run around. Good experience for him. I always worry about teams who flirt with form. Can always bite them on the bum.

    I read your book on the train. Loved it. You must get it in schools. Perfect for yr8-10.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Oh, I forgot. Did you notice Bucks drag Cloke when the Pies were trying to feed him in the 3rd term? Got to hand it to Bucks, he’s his own man.

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