Round 4 – GWS v Collingwood: Heartbroken again

Greater Western Sydney v Collingwood

7:50pm, Friday June 26

Sydney Showground Stadium




There was something off on Friday night.


Collingwood fans always have an air of unease when the Pies are interstate. It’s a rare sight…usually the side comes away with a unifying victory, but when the players trot out in their away strip to the unfamiliar surrounds of a stadium different to the MCG, it feels unusual.


The opening minutes of this encounter did little to inspire. Against the Saints, Collingwood had been brutally efficient – a progression of black and white checkerboard pieces swiftly advancing on the opposite end of the board. The forward line was wide open for fast movers to make searching leads, while skilled midfielders duly obliged in landing the Sherrin on those forwards’ chests. Combined with the black and white home strip and the comfortable MCG stands and it was a typical Collingwood evening.


A sloppy start full of fumbles and uncertainty did little to recreate such soothing feelings. GWS clearly knew how to stem the Magpies’ flow, and turned the contest into a dogfight. Just weeks before they experienced the same frustration at the hands of North Melbourne. Leon Cameron clearly knew his side couldn’t match Collingwood in an end-to-end score-a-thon, so he plugged the match up and backed his tough side in for an arm wrestle.


The Pies still worked out ways to post shots at goal. Instead of the constant procession of plays, Scott Pendlebury’s side only produced fleeting moments of brilliance. Jaidyn Stephenson once again showed he is one of the more dangerous first quarter players in the league by sizzling Aidan Corr on the lead. Unfortunately, his quirky kicking action didn’t register a goal.


In the second portion of the first quarter, Jeremy Cameron finally broke his Darcy Moore-shaped shackles with a towering contested mark. His set shot was tentative, yet it curved through the frosty Blacktown air to signal the game’s first major. These rusty matches never seem to work in Collingwood’s favour – just look to last year’s Preliminary Final as a prime example.


Understanding this, the Pies went to work. They had to prove they had learnt and matured since last year’s finals heartbreak. The away team began to take more risks, targeting the corridor and not relying on the bail-out option of big Mason Cox down the line. Breaking through GWS’ fortified defensive press, Brodie Grundy managed to bring the ball down against two opponents to the out-of-sorts Jordan De Goey. Twisting and turning away from the clamping Matt de Boer, his snap him Stephenson – the left-foot snap resulted in Collingwood’s first. To make sure they avoided a Nathan Buckley stern glance at the first break, Jamie Elliott burst through a stoppage to find Stephenson again. Despite their slow start, the Magpies had picked their way through GWS late to take the lead.


But the early forays of the second term went the Giants’ way. They continued to crash through the Pies’ press to march down the middle of the ground. Despite these strong build-ups, the boys in orange just couldn’t consistently breach Collingwood’s defence. It took a poor bit of misjudgement from Moore and Noble for the ball to fall into Greene’s lap. The game fell back into a holding pattern, as if spooked by the sudden change to the scoreboard.


Neither team were bold or skilful enough to sustain an attacking game plan. The freezing night made the ball slippery; slivers of magic would punctuate the match to keep it afloat. It had been a long time since the terms “Daicos” and “special” were synonymous, but young Josh thrilled with a cheeky strip tackle and accurate snap out of a pack. Out of nowhere, the diminutive son of a marvel had plucked a major to put the Pies back in front.


The final minutes of the first half sparked into action. Daicos’ snap had breathed life into a tactically dull affair. GWS were intent on holding up the Pies and had sacrificed their own weaponry for the cause. But Toby Greene was still roaming the forward line, and he nearly snared a wonderful two-grab contested mark. Holding the ball up, he rushed the Sherrin onto his boot when his claim was denied. Typical of a player with his talent, the snap found its way through the middle. He could make a GPS company based on goal awareness.


Not content with falling behind at the main break, Jack Crisp drew the scores level with a delightful side-step and wobbly 50 metre goal.


Collingwood may have scrambled well to hit back before half time, but shortly into the third quarter they fell away. Once again it was the strutting Greene; battling against Maynard was no easy task – Greene was beginning to win the battle. An errant kick fell to the pair. Maynard did everything right. Greene instinctively found the drop zone and protected it for a clever mark.


This genius piece of forward craft spooked the travelling Pies. Howe, so valuable and assured in his disposal, missed a clearing kick out of 50. The Giants may not have been at their sharpest, yet they were clean enough to make Howe pay with a major to first gamer Green. The usually orange Giants were creating a flurry of St Patrick’s Day themed goals to down the Pies.


When a chain of handballs found Perryman for another goal, the game was on the verge of falling to the home side. It was all too similar to the Preliminary Final – the Giants were scrapping their way to a rugged win. But the script was torn up by a last-minute surge.


First De Goey worked his way into the game with some superb body work on the boundary. He then found a passing Mihocek for a much-needed goal. Ward interrupted the Collingwood comeback when he threaded through major, but the Magpies weren’t to be denied. Fuelled by last year’s heartbreak and fresher legs, Tom Phillips threw the ball on his boot twice for two chaotic majors. A brilliant Mihocek mid-air soccer goal complimented Phillips’ brace to put the Pies right back in the game at the last break.


The last term was a heartbreaker.


The black and white continued their dominant form in the final minutes of the third quarter, but couldn’t capitalise. Five behinds were racked up, including some soft set shot misses from Mayne and Callum Brown. They were inching their way ahead via behinds, but it was never going to be enough. Maynard panicked at a shocking time – his scrubbed kick went down to the goal square for a Kelly soccer goal.


The game was down to the wire, again. Collingwood knew they could snatch the four points with a clean finish. GWS began to enter lockdown mode. Then Jeremy Howe hurt his knee.


In a gruesome clash, Howe’s knee caved in mid-air. He writhed on the ground, in scorching pain. Black and white hearts broke. The result of this game went out the window – everyone just wanted Howe to be ok.


Fans remained in shock for the next five minutes. Continual Magpie surges didn’t go to hand, and Cameron pounced up the other end with a beautiful long set shot that snuck in. It would prove to be the game-breaker.


In an immediate response, Cox finally revelled in not having the injured Phil Davis hot on his tail. A towering mark and goal reduced the margin again, but it wasn’t enough. The Giants prevailed once more in soul-destroying circumstances. Yet it paled in comparison to the loss of Howe. It wasn’t just Collingwood that lost a leader – the AFL felt the impact of one of its brightest stars being taken out of the competition for a season. It was a cold and dark Friday night for hurt Magpie fans.




GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY         1.3       4.4       8.6       10.6 (66)
COLLINGWOOD                                    2.2       4.4       8.5       9.10 (64)



Greater Western Sydney:
 Greene 3, Cameron 2, Finlayson, Green, Perryman, Ward, Kelly
Collingwood: Stephenson 2, Mihocek 2, Phillips 2, Daicos, Crisp, Cox



Greater Western Sydney:
 Greene, Green, Whitfield, Haynes, Kelly, de Boer
Collingwood: Adams, Pendlebury, Moore, Howe, Maynard, Crisp, Grundy




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE


Leave a Comment