AFL Round 3 – Collingwood v Geelong: Known Unknowns and other Rumsfeldian Prognostications

Score a footy and Cats gear


(written by Steve Fahey for the Floreat Pica Society and anyone else who might be interested)

There is no doubt that the better team on the night won this game.  For three quarters the Cats were the better team, using the ball better and coming out on top on the stats sheet in contested possessions, tackles, inside 50s and most importantly the scoreboard.  We were outstanding in the second quarter and inefficient in the other three quarters, staying in the match due to a combination of excellent work rate, pressure and persistence and some inaccuracy by the Cats.


Having summed up the game in a paragraph, I am going to take a Rumsfeldian approach to analysing the Pies’ performance, tackling the known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns, and think I will start with the last category.


Unknown unknowns

This section has been deliberately left blank (I love reading this on people’s CVs)


Known knowns

We have now played three of the top four from last year, and have been very competitive against Sydney and Geelong after a shocker against the Dockers.  While we still have a few out, we lack a bit of class, notably in disposal by foot.  Watching the Hawks on Friday night and the Cats in the first quarter, their movement of the ball by foot is in a different league to ours.

We have four A-graders – Pendles, Swanny, Beamer and Travis.  We won’t win many games against the better teams when only one of these shines.  Beamer was outstanding, Pendles and Swanny average and Travis had a Barry Crocker/Sav Rocca.  The opposition is obviously going to put a lot of work into these four, so the support crew needs to step up.

The game plan is still a work in progress – our much vaunted handball at all costs in the back half plan has already evolved, with our kick to handball ratio increasing each week (round 1 200-157 (1.27), round 2 209 -143 (1.46), round 3  220-122 (1.80).  When we were at our best in the second quarter we controlled the tempo of the game, slowing when needed, but moving the ball quickly, running, carrying and kicking to look quite potent after being very stagnant in the first quarter.

Speaking of first quarters, our starts have been a big problem. We have trailed by 20 or more points during the first half in all three games.  Inaccuracy has been an issue in each first quarter, kicking 2.4, 1.2 and 0.4 for a collective 3.10.  This has been going on for five years now, and the seconds have kicked more points than goals in their two games to date.  Matthew Lloyd notes in his excellent article on goal kicking in today’s Sunday Age that we were ranked 17th in the comp for set shot accuracy over the past three seasons.

We leaked like a sieve during the pre-season games and in round one, conceding more than 100 points each game, as we did for much of last year.  We have been able to staunch the opposition’s scoring in the past two matches, restricting the opposition to 69 and 87 points respectively.  Unfortunately our own scoring has been less than prolific, having now kicked 28 goals in three matches.  While the competition trend has been for lower scoring (thanks Ross Lyon) you won’t win a pile of games with these numbers.

Travis’ poor form is a big part of the reason for our sluggish scoring.  He is wrestling more and more often, perhaps partly as a response to the pre-season umpiring edict that more latitude will be given in marking contests.  Travis has a massive tank for a big bloke and needs to run and make the long leads more often that were once his trademark.  He is looking a bit like he was in the middle of last year before we pushed Reid forward – outnumbered, frustrated and down on confidence.  It also has to be said that the supply has been average – only 42 inside 50s against the Cats and some of the quality has been atrocious.

Swanny is struggling, but did so early last year and had an interrupted pre-season.  We need him to lift and soon.

Jamie Elliott is a star.

The ruck situation continues to be a worry.  Grundy is aggressive and competitive and very good below his knees but it is a massive (ridiculous?) ask of a 19 year-old to ruck 70% plus of every game.  He was dead on his feet half way through the third quarter and consequently gave away a silly free kick and goal at a vital stage. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again – we were insane to not pursue Mumford as a possible swap for Heater.  He and Grundy could have worked together very nicely. I’m not so sure that he and Witts fit in the same team so well, but perhaps when Reid comes back we can rotate Grundy, White and Keeffe through the ruck.

The ragtag defence we cobbled together looked all at sea in the first quarter and I feared the worst, especially when Maxwell hobbled off. They held up OK overall, with H and Maxwell very good, Langdon again showing a lot of composure and class and Frost eventually overwhelmed by Tomahawk but competing really well for three quarters.  Toovs is getting better with each game back. I’m a fan of Big Lachie, and his opponents didn’t do much last night but he has looked reasonably shaky I reckon and needs to win the ball more, as he is a very good ball user.  Fas had his moments back there, but again as a good ball user needs to be given a chance.

Macaffer continues to impress and improve as a run-with, another excellent job on Stevie J.

Clinton Young is an ordinary player.  How on earth did we get so excited about our prospects at the start of 2013 on the basis of the recruitment of Q-Stick, Jordy and Young ?  Admittedly we had a lot of blokes who we thought would come back strongly from 2012 injuries – it largely didn’t happen.


Known unknowns

Ben Reid – where are you ?  Fast becoming another Dayne Beams 2013 story, starting as a minor injury but being perennially 2-3 weeks away, continuing the magnificent tradition of Sean Rusling and Mark Orval.  Reid is our next best player after the A-graders and arguably our second most important player after Travis.

Marley Williams – we know where he is and where it is likely he is going but we could desperately do with his toughness, one on one skills and dash in the back half.

Seedsman, Broomhead, Freeman and Karnezis – will you make a contribution this year?  I’m assuming the answer to that question for Scharenberg is no.

White and Adams – are you the players we hoped you were?  We have to give them both some time, but Adams has been very disappointing.  White has showed glimpses, two cracking goals in the second quarter, the rucking goal particularly impressive, but needs to do more.

I’ll finish with a philosophical question – if blokes can be charged and fined for misconduct for staging, how is that different from blokes putting their hands in the air saying they have touched the ball off the boot that has gone through the goals when clearly they haven’t and they know that they haven’t ? In both cases blokes are dishonestly seeking advantage from the umpires.  It’s one of the small things that annoys me, along with………….

Votes for the Michael Horsburgh medal :

3 Elliott – he nearly pinched that game off his own boot and very sticky fingers.

2 Beamer – was outstanding with his clearance efforts and work rate

1 Sidey – haven’t mentioned him above, but a very strong performance.


Honourable mentions to Maxy (who has strung together two very good games back in his old plus one role after looking like the end might have been nigh against the Dockers), H and Caff.


The Tom Floyd Medal goes to Billy Elliott.


I look forward to reading your contributions during the week.  Obviously a cut-throat game against the Tiges on Friday night.  There are multiple grounds to be confident – we have a very good record against them, with Travis particularly enjoying playing them, and their conquerors to date have been the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast and they fell in against Carlton.

Floreat Pica



  1. Really enjoyed your post Steve. Very thoughtful and honest. Much better than repeating the bleeding obvious that we all know from the box scores.
    I reckon that honest fans really know the strengths and weaknesses of their teams better than anyone, because we follow them so closely. Trouble is that many are in denial, and do not meet the ‘honesty’ test.
    Well played.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good honest article Steve and spot on re Mumford a top ruck tandem is worth it’s weight in , Gold . Grundy is good and going to be elite , at least Collingwood are aiming to get up to the top echelon and have showed it in picking him unlike other clubs
    Totally agree as a non Collingwood supporter in your rankings of who are A graders
    Well done , enjoyable read Steve

  3. E.regnans says

    Insightful and wise, Steve.
    Admirable candour and analysis. Well played.

  4. “It’s one of the small things that annoys me, along with………….”

    Right with you on this. You can do A in this situation but not in that. You can do B in that situation but not in this. Undermines integrity and creates frutration.

    Elliot is something else.

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