AFL Round 4 – Collingwood v Bulldogs: Gritty, Gritty… Got it!


For some reason, I was unusually nervous.


Not one to normally stress about Collingwood and their AFL exploits, their Friday night match up against the rebuilding Bulldogs somehow caused a stir in me. I know they had lost to the Suns last week, but they still seemed dangerous. We lost to the Eagles last week – a win as needed to return our win-loss balance to 2-2. When I hear an hour before the game that Beams is out with a migraine, the nerves gather steam.


Unfortunately, I can only watch snippets of the game due to a cricket presentation night. Luckily, my mate next seat over has Telstra and a live stream is sneakily chucked up at opportune times. I see De Goey win a free in a dash back to the goal line for our first goal, and then luckily tune out for the rest of the first – it’s not like I missed anything important. From watching the replay after I am comfortable that I only missed a tepid encounter of scrappy defensive footy.


In the second quarter I see Varcoe float into space like he usually does and slot a much-needed goal – will this finally kick the game into second gear? And how was he ever dropped?


Steadily, like a 90s car up a hill, the match kicks into a higher gear and the Bulldogs finally get their stagnant offence into it. Moore and Roughead are dominating the air, and Grundy is giving English a lesson on how to play in that position called the ruck.


From what the stats tell me, the Bont is standing out, doing the grunt work and allowing Libba, Hunter and McCrae to get some outside ball.


At half time the scoring is dismal  – what impact has these rules had?


The Bulldogs rally, using their strong handball work in close and contested ball nous to get clearances. Crozier has already taken mark of the year so far, and Collingwood have been shut down from using the middle again.


My mate and I decide to switch it off for the rest of the third quarter, and lucky we did. Halfway through an acceptance speech I sneakily check my phone and my fears are shot with adrenaline – the Bulldogs lead by 5 points at the last break. Panic stations. Upon watching the replay, the sloppy contest was broken open, and Collingwood just couldn’t kick into gear. Something about their entire team balance is a bit off, but I guess it’s not too worrying early on in the season. At least the talent is there.


The Bulldogs steadily found room and scored freely. Lloyd was creative, Johannisen and Wood held down the defensive fort. Thankfully, a late Collingwood goal keeps us within touch.


Halfway through the last quarter the score is checked again – Pies up by 1. It’s sizing up to be a close one. As we watch the score flickers and the Bulldogs retain the lead – Lloyd is on the end of a full ground play that hurts.


The score is constantly checked, as the Pies get back up and then thankfully do the dirty work to put the game away. When re-watching, Cox has a massive last quarter (except for his shocking choice to kick way over De Goey’s head and squander a goal chance) as he is helped by some better forward fifty entries. De Goey is chucked into the midfield and impacts the game immensely, bullying players and dictating terms. The mix works well when he bombs the ball into the fifty, allowing Cox to make a contest and then spilling the ball to the dangerous group of Stephenson, Elliott and Thomas. They all kick goals at the end – maybe that’s a good way forward.


It’s a low-key win, but feet are screwed firmly to the ground. Maybe that’s the point – we are 2-2 and can build from there. For the Bulldogs – the Bont and Naughton provide enough highlights in themselves to whet the appetite of supporters. It may not be pretty, yet it’s footy. And I’ll love it all the same.


COLLINGWOOD               1.2    4.6    6.9    11.12 (78)
WESTERN BULLDOGS     0.3    2.7    7.8     9.10 (64) 


Phillips 2, Thomas 2, Stephenson 2, Elliott 2, De Goey, Varcoe, Cox
Western Bulldogs: Lloyd 2, Dickson, Naughton, Dunkley, Smith, McLean, Wallis, Suckling 


Phillips, Grundy, Roughead, Adams, Pendlebury
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, Macrae, Suckling, Crozier 


Beams (illness) replaced in selected side by Brown, Mayne (back)
Western Bulldogs: Nil 


Reports: Mihocek (Collingwood) reported for striking Liberatore (Western Bulldogs) in the second quarter

Umpires: Ryan, Hosking, O’Gorman

Official crowd: 59,257 at the MCG


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  1. george smith says

    Unfortunately that is the lot of the Collingwood supporter. I myself turn the TV off and watch the replay if we win – I have still not watched last years grand final, even though I promised the almighty I would do so, in return for him getting me out of a jam…

    It is funny how little power we have over the important things in our lives, from the object of desire who friendzones us, to the loss of a parent, to the loss of a job when the business packs up to that near miss on the highway when it wasn’t your fault…

    Barracking for the Magpies teaches us to endure. Those of us old enough to remember 1970 are scarred for life, but we endure. I hope it makes us better people.

  2. For some strange reason I enjoy Collingwood losses even though the ‘Pies have taken several of the best Redlegs, Carman included, to play for them over the years..I know Rulebook has a soft spot for them because of this. At present only James Aish is with them but who knows what the future will bring.

    For all that, I always dread it when Collingwood and Port Adelaide clash – I want both to lose so I CAN’T WIN either way.

  3. george smith says

    there are not one but two Redlegs in the 1990 premiership team – Tony Francis and Craig Kelly.

    It is also notable that after Carman left, Norwood won the flag for the first time in ages…

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