Round 12 – Collingwood v Melbourne: A big freeze and some cold play


The early Monday in June is no longer synonymous with the Queen’s Birthday.


Celebrated for many a year, the day has now gotten colder yet more powerful. The royal red has seeped into an ice-cold blue. The fifth edition of the Big Freeze has displayed how big of an entity the day has become.


With footy superstars and other famous Australian sporting personalities taking the plunge before the match, it was easily forgotten that there was a game to follow. The packed MCG crowd and many TV viewers including yours truly were too enraptured by the funny costumes, the superb Freddie Mercury entrance by Nick Riewoldt and the infamous Spiderman suit of Swanny. But once the ice was displaced and the beautiful recognition of Neale Daniher’s work reached fever pitch, the teams ran out and the pre-game emotions resurfaced. This was a crunch game for both teams. Collingwood had to rebound after a shock loss to Fremantle and a poor month of form. Melbourne were in desperate need of a win to reward their recent unpolished efforts.


Both teams were eager to make a statement early, but it was the Pies who characteristically burst out of the blocks. De Goey’s searing clearance to Stephenson seemed to set the tone, yet his wayward kick signalled that Collingwood still aren’t at their goal-kicking best. Luckily he redeemed multiple poor set shots with an advantage open goal that rewarded him for a dominant start. Melbourne couldn’t get their hands on the ball and their poor start only served to pressure the returning May and Lever. They couldn’t keep up with De Goey, who showed his one-on-one prowess with an easy open goal. Hoskin-Elliott then ensured the Pies capitalised on their strong start, as his long arms took an outstanding mark that was duly converted. Just as the Dees looked set to be consigned to a goalless first quarter, a chance torpedo forward by Petracca fell perfectly for the cheeky Garlett, who wandered out the back with pace for a much-needed major.


Collingwood continued to looked cleaner with their skills and ball movement in the second term, but couldn’t quite put away the dogged Demons. The Dees’ scrappy defence held strong enough, as Lever took a courageous mark to find some confidence. But chance opportunities ensured the Pies kept the scoreboard ticking over. De Goey soccered through another breathtaking goal. Mihocek crumbed well to snap through another. The Demons randomly found goals through Petracca and Spargo out of nowhere. Gawn got on top of the ruck battle with a hampered Grundy and hurt him around the ground. However, his dominance was nullified by the Magpies’ midfield, with Sier’s return sparking a tougher effort that allowed Pendlebury, Treloar and Sidebottom to benefit.


Going into the main break, the four goal margin didn’t reflect Collingwood’s superiority. Their defence had been extremely miserly – Moore and Roughead had blanketed their talls while Aish, Greenwood, Howe and Maynard managed to provide wonderful run out of the back fifty. The main concern was whether Melbourne could suddenly lift their form and bounce right back into it. They threatened to through spurts of form that resulted in odd goals. Hunt bobbed up. Gawn continued to shoulder the midfield by himself. Harmes, like always, was industrious and wonderfully tough. Petracca was steadily willing himself to have an influence on proceedings.


But they just couldn’t convert this into a regular tide of goals. Just when Melbourne looked like they could win the clearance battle enough to score multiple majors, the Pies would rebound with venom and send it down to their dangerous forward line. Suddenly, De Goey had a one-on-one with May and worked it perfectly for a snapped goal. Hoskin-Elliott became an important connector in the half-forward line, similar to how Tom Lynch does it for Adelaide. Thomas and Varcoe exhibited great pressure and Stephenson became the man of the day. Looking dangerous whenever it went near him, he finally kicked one straight after taking an awesome specky on Hore. Sidebottom cruised through traffic to slot a skilful goal. Treloar then capped off a busy day in the middle with a typical running goal. The margin pushed out to 6 goals and the game was pretty much over.


To their credit, Melbourne gave plenty of effort and showed some heart. They kicked a few goals in succession in the last quarter to set up a tight finish. But just as they looked like building confidence, it deserted them. Callum’s Brown blistering pace set up a third for Stephenson and then Cox finished off a nice return game with a goal. Thomas kicked a well-deserved goal and the margin was back out to 42 points. A Max Gawn point after the siren summed up their day – they gave their all but Melbourne just lacked the class of a Pies outfit playing unconvincing footy yet still sitting in second position on the ladder. The bye couldn’t come soon enough for both teams, but for completely different reasons.


COLLINGWOOD     3.5     6.8     11.8     15.8     (98)
MELBOURNE          1.2     3.5      5.9      7.15     (57)


De Goey 3, Stephenson 3, Hoskin-Elliott 3, Grundy, Mihocek, Sidebottom, Treloar, Cox, Thomas
Melbourne: Weideman 2, Garlett, Petracca, Spargo, Hunt, Hannan


Sidebottom, Treloar, Stephenson, Hoskin-Elliott, De Goey, Sier
Melbourne: Gawn, Harmes, Oliver, Brayshaw, May, Petracca


Melbourne: Smith (flu) replaced in selection side by J.Wagner, Frost (concussion)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Stevic, Deboy, Whetton, Ryan


Official crowd: 74,036 at the MCG


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