Round 11 – Collingwood v Fremantle: Reality checks and good Saturday arvo footy



I miss the older times.


The Saturday afternoon match ups at suburban grounds. All at the same time, played in front of smaller yet more parochial crowds. I ponder what it would be like, back in a better time, while the train whistles past Victoria Park. This cloudy and chilly Saturday arvo would’ve been perfect for a Victoria Park game against Fremantle. But I guess the MCG isn’t too shabby.


Despite the attendance being less then the last few Magpie games, it’s a pleasant surprise to be able to wander on down from Jolimont Station and down into Gate 3 without so much as a small gathering of people in line. There’s no qeues, no hold-ups, just scanning in and taking the elevator up to some nice seats in the Olympic Stand. Dad and I have decided to attend, because it’s been too long since it’s just us going and the rain has stayed away.


As a thank you gift, Collingwood, adorned in their magnificent Indigenous round jumpers, race out of the blocks as De Goey signals his return with an opening minute goal. Who isn’t happy to see the dangerous player roaming the ‘G with purpose again? Pendlebury is on fire early, and threatens to break open the game when he intercepts a kick in and skilfully bends it onto Mihocek’s chest. But the unsung hero of our forward line misses a simple shot. That’s not normal. Maybe it’s not a typical Collingwood Saturday arvo after all.


Some poor delivery into our forward 50 means we struggle to score. Freo use their superb runners in Brad Hill and Michael Walters to go forward and hurt us. Moore looks a little out of sorts, and Hogan makes him pay by using his athleticism to score two early majors. Howe tries to make mark of the year but spoils Moore. We are out of sync. A slow start. Luckily, a fortuitous free kick to Reid helps the bald veteran to keep us on level terms. Hill accepts a goal, but Pendlebury strikes straight back – his awesome start capped off with a major.


A stalemate begins in term two, with both teams not playing at their best. There’s some skill errors but some exciting passages of play. Both teams are looking to attack quickly through the middle, yet thrusts forward fall down with poor disposal going inside attacking 50. Finally, De Goey knocks down Fyfe’s lunging tackle like he’s a mozzie in the summer and snaps a remarkable goal. Stephenson tries to go one better minutes later with a wonderful drop punt shot from the boundary, before Beams rectifies his dismal start with a smooth running goal. Order is restored. Has De Goey kicked us into gear?


A late Lobb goal means we aren’t as far ahead as we could be. But Freo are trailing only because of some poor kicking at goal. The Dockers have a rejuvenated line up that is impressive. Hogan gives them a target. Conca provides grunt and distributes well to Walters, Langdon and Mundy. Hamling and Pearce are just managing to hold down the fort. Lobb is doing well a kick behind play, yet is getting smashed by Grundy in the ruck.


Fremantle use this fresh outfit to advantage, blitzing early in the third quarter and converting the dominance into four quick goals. Walters snaps a goal that is clearly touched by Mayne. The players instantly set up for a kick-in, but are bewildered when they are forced to jog back to the centre. This isn’t going to be another away walk-over. Hill is out the back and his leg speed is too much. He’s everywhere. Hogan gets another. But Moore is sticking to him more, nullifying his impact. Hoskin-Elliott saves face in a horrible quarter, while De Goey brings us right back into the contest with a solid mark and snap goal. We have a chance to take the lead and demoralise Freo in the final seconds, but Varcoe handballs it off to Brown, whose pass to Reid in the goal square would’ve been perfect if not for the siren sounding. That’s a big moment.


There’s no need to panic. In the opening minute of the last quarter Pendles snaps a remarkable captain’s goal in heavy traffic. It’s been over a decade and still no one understands how he finds such space. What a finish.


Reid then benefits from a free kick to slam home a monster goal. Could we get out of jail again?


There are shades of our last quarter against St Kilda in the opening five minutes. Freo have other plans. Matera quickly exploits our defence with some hard running to get out the back and kick a much-needed major. Josh Thomas capitalises on his incessant hassling, splitting the middle to reinstate our lead. Both teams are warming up to the occasion at the right time.


Fremantle’s hard work pays off – their running opens us up and allows them to stretch our midfield defensively. Grundy and Pendles are the only midfielders likely to get a clearance – Treloar, Beams, Sidebottom and Phillips have had shockers. De Goey spends a large chunk of the quarter on the bench, so Crisp is thrown into the middle to provide a bigger body.


Matera manages to find space again and hurts us. Varcoe and Crisp miss shots to ice the game. A tumbling Fyfe barrel inside forward 50 finds the chest of Walters. He just finds the right spots in the big moments. I’ve seen enough of his recent theatrics to know where this kick is going. Straight through the middle. My heart doesn’t break like it would normally. We deserve to lose this.


Once more we fail to get a clearance and the match ends. I’m annoyed at our team, but maybe we needed to lose this one. A loss results in a set-back, a reality check. A lucky win wouldn’t have inspired that. We need to change things up. Drop a few players. Bring in Sier. Cox. It’s no panic stations, as I wander up the path to Jolimont once more. It’s not our best day, but maybe it’s the day we need to have if we’re going to build our form for bigger stages.


COLLINGWOOD          3.3       6.5       8.6       11.9 (75)
FREMANTLE                3.3       4.4       8.10     11.13 (79)


 De Goey 3, Pendlebury 2, Reid 2, Stephenson, Beams, Hoskin-Elliott, Thomas
Fremantle: Walters 2, Hill 2, Hogan 2, Matera 2, Hughes, Lobb, Langdon


 Pendlebury, Grundy, Maynard, Roughead, Howe
Fremantle: Hill, Langdon, Fyfe, Wilson, Walters, Blakely


Fremantle: Pearce (ankle)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Fleer, Whetton, Meredith


Official crowd: 41,774 at the MCG



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