Pies step up to step on Eagles

mercurial (of person) sprightly, ready-witted, volatile

From half-time on, the story of this game was always going to be the three moments of brilliance from The Mop.  While those moments lit up the game, the bigger story should be that this was a vastly improved performance on our most recent efforts.

At the start of the season I had this game marked as a “gimme”.  Reigning premiers versus reigning wooden-spooners, in Melbourne, maybe a good chance to bring in a debutant.  Ten weeks later it became match of the round, as the Eagles had vastly improved through a combination of established stars being fully fit for the first time in several seasons and some excellent young talent.  The notable question pre-game was whether we could cover their much-vaunted array of talls, especially with Jolly and L Brown still watching from the stands.

The day started well, with a lap of honour for recently inducted legend John Greening.  JG’s is one of the saddest stories of our club, and it was moving to see his evident delight in the enthusiastic ovation he deservedly received.

Although Kennedy put the Weagles in front in the first minute, it was apparent quite early that we were “on.”  By the 14 minute mark we had recorded 13 tackles, many inside our forward 50. I was stunned to learn last week that we are ranked no.13 in tackles inside forward 50, after being no. 1 last season.  Pendles and Swanny were getting plenty of it and Didak was lively up forward in a much-needed improvement in form.

The Mop provided the highlight of the quarter with an inventive checkside goal in heavy traffic while the ball was both disputed and in mid-air.  Harry provided the other highlight with a juggled mark, the first touch of which was a backhander.  The Eagles allowed the game to be played entirely on our terms, with Maxwell able to zone off and lend a hand to Taz on Kennedy and Reid, Davis and Shaw all prominent.  We enjoyed a handy three-goal lead at the first break.

The second quarter saw the pattern of the game continue, with the Eagles sticking to their Malthouse-esque game plan of chipping it around the back half and then up the boundary.  They simply didn’t get it in quickly enough to allow their tall forwards either uncontested marks on the lead or one-on-one contests with their opponent.  The first half of the quarter was an arm-wrestle, with the ball moving between the respective half-back lines and both teams struggling to score.  The Eagles took it coast to coast from a kick-in after we left the corridor unmanned and the long-kicking Hurn executed to perfection.  Not enough attention to the tapes or a concentration lapse here, as this is a regular Eagles set play.

The Mop electrified the game with a screamer on the much-taller Nic Nat which he passed quickly off to Pendles who converted. He then iced his personal cake with an outrageously audacious left-foot banana goal from the boundary.  Ker-ching…his form over the past few weeks will add a few bucks to his next contract, which I’m confident will be with the Pies.  Maybe we should make him an environmental ambassador promoting the carbon tax (and here’s Cate and Daisy…!)

We never looked in danger in this game, although the Eagles tried hard and kicked two in a minute in the third quarter when they won successive easy clearances and hit up Kennedy, whose stuttering dance steps are weird but effective.  Swanny, who put in his best game in a few weeks, showed class bursting through the midfield and then following up with a forward assist in the same passage to set up McCarthy for a goal. Big Wood, whose first half was disgraceful, started to get a bit of the ball, but undid some of his work by conceding a silly 50 metre penalty and shot on goal.  We were again hopelessly outpointed in the hit-outs, but our midfielders worked hard and smart to even out the clearances with Ball typically industrious.   Krakouer produced a customary piece of magic to kick a great goal.

The last quarter was extended junk time with lots of very tired bodies. Buckley’s long bomb goal and Travis’ strong marking were the highlights of the quarter. Travis took 5 contested marks in a game with a total of 25, a great contribution when combined with his impressive work rate.

It was fascinating that the Eagles never changed their game plan, which appeared doomed to failure from quite early in the game.  Talking to Paul about this, he opined that perhaps Worsfold thought that they are better sticking to their tried and true game plan and accepting its deficiencies against the better teams rather than tinkering with it mid-game and risking confusion.  An interesting proposition.  It is also fair to say that the cold and windy conditions didn’t suit them.

For us there were lots of positives.  A notable increase in intensity was reflected in us winning both the tackle and contested possession count.  Didak and Harry both showed improved form, Maxwell got another game under his belt, Toovey returned without fuss (other than drawing attention for his horrible second-quarter clanger), Beams continued his solid form and the backline was excellent.  I am sure that TAFKATBM will be able to focus on some less positive aspects, but a good performance in which we won each quarter and controlled the game.

Votes for the Floreat Pica Society’s prestigious Michael Horsburgh Medal are :

3 The Mop – no surprises here, he is in stellar form.  He became an A-grader with his performances in the finals last year and has continued on, combining hard running both ways with courage and exquisite skill

2 Pendles – just keeps getting it and using it well and is the General of the midfield.

1 Ben Reid – the most improved player at the club in the past 2 seasons, hasn’t lost to his opponent this season and was assured in his marking and ball-handling and is an outstanding user of the ball.

Leon and Ball were unlucky to miss out, but you can’t fit five into three.  The John Annear Medal goes to The Mop.

I was intrigued to read Mick’s comments after the game about the argument between Heater and Maxy at ¾ time. He said “Heath is like that.  I said to him after the game God help his teachers…they’ve probably just come out of the asylum.”  A special hello to one of my old teachers, Floreat Pica’s John Ramsdale, who had the privilege of teaching Heater for a couple of years.

The Saints’ back-to-back wins should bring another twenty thousand through the gates on Saturday night.  It is a home game, boosting the coffers of our club –perhaps the injured blokes can have a chartered plane flying at low altitude to Arizona. I’d love to see Eddie be able to pull that off.

I look forward to The Artist’s DR votes and report, to Haiku Bob’s thoughts and to your contributions.

I will finish with a gobsmackingly useless piece of trivia, that “The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki’s reform, begun in 1892.”   (http://www.meister-z.com/meister_z/HAIKUSMP.htm ). Yes the same year as the birth of our great club.

Floreat Pica

Steve

Comments

  1. Lovely piece. Perceptive and beautifully written. (God this being nice to Collingwood supporters is insufferable). As for the game – I felt the Eagles played as well as in their thrashings of the Demons, Dockers and Bulldogs. Which says something for how awesome the Pies looked yesterday.
    Mick certainly had them up, to put these upstarts back in their place. I am sure the Eagles are his ‘sweetest revenge/strongest statement’ of all the non-Vic contests. Your comments re the Eagles ‘one trick pony’ playing style is spot on. I think that reflects Wooshas single mindedness, and that the group isn’t as developed to have the diversity of playing styles of the elite sides. There is no Plan B – and probably shouldn’t be until Plan A is better honed. Our last 3 opponents all have small backlines, but Mick made sure that Tarrant, Maxwell, OBrien put paid to one out marking contests.
    In our last 3 games we easily won back possession when we made a skill error, but Pies don’t give a sucker an even break. Over years I have noted that kids ‘come of age’ at home – several years before they perform interstate – particularly in Melbourne. Shuey, Darling, Ebert (less understandably) were like rabbits in the spotlight.
    I tend to only watch other teams thoroughly once or twice a year. So a few comments that may sound like the bleeding obvious to the faithful. The Mop’s skill were dazzling, but his arms and body strength amazed me. I still had him tapped as a brilliant skinny kid. I had also dammed Swan with faint praise as a ‘work horse’. The sleeve and the short legs/long trunk make him an ugly star to the casual observer. You don’t have him in your best (which says something for how good the rest were), but I was dazzled by his skill and quickness of mind. One time he went boundary side when infield was predictable; worked in a shoe box to regather under pressure; and hit a target for a Collingwood goal. Lastly Big Harry has always been on my ‘watchable’ list with Rioli, Goodes, Gazza etc – he is big, small, fast, strong, unpredictable and reliable – all in one package.
    If they play to that level I don’t think anyone can touch Pies, but I would want at least 2/1 to allow for the unknowable. Injuries – as the Eagles suffered in ’93 can cruel an outstanding side. Or an average performance on a big day – as ’08 proved for the Cats.
    Plenty of thrills and spills before the fat lady sings. But that was as awesome as anything since the Brisbane all star years.
    You would beat us by 30 points if we played next week, but it was worth the experience for Eagles fans and players alike to witness such a spanking. Character building.

  2. Steve Fahey says

    Enjoyed your comments Peter (and it’s great to be able to spread the love you are feeling to Pies supporters !!)

    I agree with your comments re the gap between performing at home and away for the non-Victorian clubs. With 7 more home games, the Weagles should make the eight, which will be great experience for the young guys. I reckon you need another midfielder with excellent foot skills to feed off your ruckmen and the in and under Priddis.

    And hopefully Bucks will pinch Scott Burns back at the end of the year !

  3. Michael Viljoen says

    I predicted that confusion over the ‘Rushed Behind’ rule would grow as the season progressed. (See my account of the McGuane incident from Round 2 – ‘A Rushed Point for an April Fool’)
    Here in Round 10 we see Collingwood defender, Nick Mawell, shark the ball cleanly off a pack in the goal square and boot it through the big sticks for a rushed point. The umpire gives the ‘all clear’ for a behind, but the umpire’s coach, Jeff Gieschen, declares this to be the wrong decision.
    Confusion reigns as no one, not the players, not the umpires, nor the spectators can make any sense of the rushed behind rule.
    Gieschen says a player must be “under immediate pressure” to be able to legally rush a behind. But surely a defender who is that close to the teeth of goal is under substantial pressure.
    In Maxwell’s case, he was surrounded by opposition. If he had fumbled the ball, he then would have had undoubted right to force it over the line for a point. Similarly, if he waited to be tackled, he would have had similar right (as did Richmond’s McGuane in Round 2). However, Maxwell is a respected player, a club captain. He does not fumble often, he does wait to be tackled, and he doesn’t suffer fools easily like those on the Rules Committee. He does the sensible thing, that which football players have done for a hundred years, and rushes a behind for the good of his team.
    Gieschen is wrong in his comments. But he is battling in impossible circumstances. He is charged with defending the indefensible or explaining the inexplicable. The rushed behind rule is a nonsense, and must be totally rewritten at the end of the season.

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