Round 14 – Carlton v Collingwood: Rekindling the rivalry, swelling the heart

 

Carlton v Collingwood

3:35pm, Sunday August 30

The Gabba

 

 

 

As a child of the Noughties, it’s difficult to comprehend the Carlton/Collingwood rivalry to its full extent. Without witnessing the pain of Grand Finals through the ’70s and ’80s, I didn’t grow up immediately hating Carlton – it was something I was told and learnt, but without the pain-fuelled passion of older fans. Yet this conflict between two of the league’s oldest and most successful combatants was re-kindled on the weekend.

 

The enormity of this clash was both historic and contemporary. Looking back across a more than a century-long rivalry, Collingwood needed a win to level the total head-to-head record. In current day terms, Carlton had to snatch victory to have a chance of storming into the top eight.

 

It was the first time in years I had gone in nervous to a Pies/Blues clash. In seasons past, there was no tension, no aura of desperation. With Collingwood collapsing into a heap in the past couple months, this match between two sides going opposite ways in terms of form was on a knife’s edge.

 

After a sloppy display against the Roos, Collingwood’s first quarter was a welcome change. Instead of bearing through the storm of missed targets and tentative play, the Pies took on the game and opened up the middle. Josh Thomas’ first term was huge; a goal out of three opportunities and plenty of pressure all spawned from a renewed work rate. Isaac Quaynor got the daunting gig on Betts, and couldn’t do much when Eddie somehow curled through a left-foot cracker. You could see Magpie defenders ruffling Quaynor’s hair while Eddie trotted away, a wide grin plastered on his face. No worries Isaac, you did nothing wrong there.

 

The Pies certainly looked slicker in the first term, relying on a revamped half-back line to propel forward kamikaze-style. Crisp was crucial – his run and carry all game, alongside his precise delivery inside forward 50, proved the highlight of a classy month by the peroxide-blonde defender. Quaynor’s dare and pace added to the bounciness of Collingwood’s defence; when Noble got up and running, the Pies were once again attractive to watch. In the midfield, Jamie Elliott was answering Magpie prayers for another reliable on-baller. Yet all of these positives didn’t lead to a  ballooned lead; a Hoskin-Elliott shocker gifted Walsh a goal, and threatened the hairs and fingernails of many Pies fans watching around the country.

 

It was a cracking game of footy. Both teams hedged their bets at times and took chances at others. Crisp nearly cost a certain goal when he lost the ball streaming through the middle, but his awry bounce ended in the lap of a gut-busting Josh Thomas run – his kick was true, his confidence returned. Daicos threatened all day on the wing. His pace and flair added a much-needed style boost. But just as the Pies surged ahead, Carlton took two kick-ins end to end for majors and then consolidated with more goals before the main break. A deep feeling of dread tried to dismiss my positive outlook on the game.

 

If the first half played with my emotions, the majority of the third term frazzled nerves. By the time Cox swallowed a Thomas pass and slotted the goal to bridge the gap my body felt like it was coming apart at the seams; my nerves like split ends after 20 minutes of pressure. The ball flew from end to end – desperate saves shifted momentum like a seesaw, except this one had thrills, mistakes and a ray of sunshine that’s only purpose was to blind forwards when they were ready to take an uncontested mark. Cox’s game-breaker should’ve been followed up by a quick Stephenson follow-up, but the enigmatic forward inexplicably elected to snap around the corner from directly in front, and missed. It was that sort of game.

 

Usually fast-starters, I shouldn’t have been confident heading into the final break. We were still behind; a late Jack Martin turnover stopped the margin from ballooning to a two-kick cushion. But I was positive. Maybe it was because it was the best Collingwood had played since their strong win over Geelong in Perth. It had been a long time ago – no wonder I was upbeat.

 

Positivity can do funny things. It stopped me from worrying, and the attacking intent of Collingwood gave them the impetus to snatch the match. Adams went to another level – he and Pendlebury led from the middle. Daicos was everywhere; hanging out on the wing, cleaning up backs of packs and then swerving through traffic to thread through a wonderful left foot goal. When Moore came into the game through a series of athletic intercept marks, the Pies had squeezed the life out of the Blues. The second half Collingwood effort was typified by Mayne, a character known for doing anything to further the Magpie cause. Facing the steam-train that is Patrick Cripps, Mayne met him front on, halted his run towards goal and caused a turnover. There was no care for his safety, or the fractured cheek bone/eye socket he likely suffered. Hobbling off the ground in a dazed state, my heart swelled with pride. There’s a player that the internal machinations of each footy club craves deep down – one who puts their utmost effort into helping their companions find success. Bravo Chris.

 

With only minutes left on the clock, my positivity wave ebbed into content. Something had clicked. Maynard had another stellar day, alongside the much improved Madgen. But to pick a best player was to find a needle in the haystack – for the first time in weeks, voting was hard. Walsh was clearly the standout Blue, but when Mihocek and Cox both slammed through their second the Collingwood effort only took on a more rounded appearance.

 

Siren. I now understand what it’s all about. Beating Carlton is sweet. But seeing improvement and an attacking game of footy always does wonders for the soul.

 

 

 

CARLTON             2.0    7.2    7.4     7.6 (48)
COLLINGWOOD   2.2    5.6    6.8    10.12 (72)

 

GOALS
Carlton: Betts 2, Curnow, Fisher, McKay, Newnes, Walsh
Collingwood: Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Mihocek 2, Cox 2, Phillips, Daicos

 

BEST
Carlton: 
Walsh, Curnow, Fisher
Collingwood: 
Daicos, Crisp, Elliott, Quaynor, Maynard, Moore, Cox

 

 

 

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