Round 10 – Collingwood v Western Bulldogs: When “almost” isn’t enough

by Chris Vassiliou

The build up to the game had a sense of anticlimax about it. After such a great win over the Cats the week before and with optimism sky high I couldn’t help but ask whether there was only one direction (no pun intended) from here. Albeit for just this match.

Despite this awkward feeling I also knew that if we brought the same application and intent to the contest as the previous two weeks we were a big chance against a team that was bullied (pun intended) the week before away from home.

As fellow FPS member George Habib, myself and others took our seats we noticed the relatively small crowd and lack of anticipation, atmosphere. Even after the match had started and the Doggies kicked the first goal someone asked: “has the game started yet?”. The remainder of the first quarter played out like a game of chess with both sides trying to establish their brand. Both defences were on top but neither team was clean with disposal and both made basic errors.

The daring game style the Pies had shown the previous two weeks was almost there but not quite. Play on at “almost” all costs, “almost” hit the impossible target to open up space, “almost” hold on to that contested mark and “almost” snap that team lifting goal. The Pies however had brought their high pressure game and the Doggies were up for the fight “almost”. It was clear that the longer this game went on the Pies were the most likely to impose their will and brand of football on this match. It was there for the taking. If we could stop kicking the ball to Easton Wood who played some kind of game.

Greenwood was doing a job on the “Bont”, Stringer was doing a job on himself, Sidey, Pendles and Adams were prominent. At the main break I was quietly confident that if we could just nail those half chances we would run over the top of them.

Second half:

The likes of White, Varcoe, Crisp and Treloar, who had not yet impacted on the contest, lifted in the third quarter and we were all over them. However as each missed opportunity passed and with numbers on our interchange bench dwindling the Doggies seemed more invested in the game the longer it went on. How many chances could we afford them?

Where was Taylor Adams sweeping across half back cleaning up ground level? Where was Toovey and his undying commitment to the contest? Where was Fas turning those half chances into “almost” moments? Where was Darcy Moore who was clunking them earlier in the match and probably the most effective forward in the game?
The last quarter was frenetic in the opening minutes with the Doggies getting one out the back after an intense first few minutes to break the deadlock. At this point you felt the Doggies would run over the top as the Pies started losing their shape.

However we responded with a strong passage of play that finished with a Crispy snap that summed up our day. “Almost!”. Was that the last stand?
No! We mustered up another surge as we ran through the middle with Treloar kicking a team-lifting goal on the run from outside 50. The crowd lifted . Could this be a famous victory against the odds?

Unfortunately what came next was the breaking point. The Doggies won the centre clearance with a kick inside 50 and what should have been another intercept mark to Reid was spoiled by Oxley, already having an average day, the ball spilling to Easton Wood who baulked a tackle and kicked a goal from 50 to cap off a BOG performance.

And when Pendles starts missing targets inside 50 and then panic-kicks out of defence under pressure you just know that today the Doggies will get out of jail.

A few observations:
Crocker – showing enough to suggest he will be a good player. Tough as well. Only blemish was his decision to pass the ball to our shortest player, Blair, when he was 35m out from goal.
Maynard – improved his disposal efficiency from last week and continues to go hard at the footy. I’m not sure he would be in our best 22 with a full list though.
Darcy – he will be a star. It’s easy to forget he has played less than 20 games.
Jesse White – Stood up in the second half when we needed him to. Very un-Jesse-like. “Moore” than ever now?
Grundy – should have stayed in bed.
Cox – Will learn from every game.
Oxley – Oh Oxley.

The votes:
3. Jeremy Howe:
For 85% disposal efficiency, his intercept marking and bold kicking out of defence has been a revelation. Also allows Reid more freedom.
2. Sidebottom:
Playing at another level this year and is so much more effective without those dinky little kicks.
1. Pendles:
would have been 3 if not for his poor disposal efficiency and a couple of critical errors in the last quarter. Our expectations for the skipper are perhaps too high.

Honorable mentions:
Ben Reid, Taylor Adams and Greenwood for his job on the Bont.
It appears inevitable that Cloke will get his reprieve. I hope he makes the most of it.
Go Pies!!


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  1. bob.speechley says

    Although I’m a Bulldogs supporter I fully concur with your interpretation of the contest. The loss of Adams, and to a lesser extent, Fasolo & Moore cost Collingwood the game -along with those squandered opportunities in the third stanza. I feel that you’re a bit hard on Grundy who, from my observations, didn’t let up all day and tired along with Pendlebury and Sidebottom after three quarter time.

  2. E.regnans says

    G’day Chris,
    Welcome to this place.
    I like your observations of the ambient mood before the game.
    That flat, anti-climactic beginning is something that seems more prevalent now than ever.
    I wonder if there is any causal link with the growth of electronic stimulation at grounds.

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