Round 16 – Collingwood v West Coast: Plucky Pies Downed by Errant Eagles

written by Michael Labiris, on debut for the Floreat Pica Society (well played Michael)

Collingwood has slumped to its fourth consecutive loss, going down to a wayward West Coast 11.21 (87) to 7.14 (56) under the dome on Saturday.

The loss brings Collingwood to an 8-7 record for the season, holding on to eight spot on the ladder by percentage.

Of bigger concern for the Pies will be the loss of Travis Cloke, who hobbled on the ground in the first quarter with what appeared to be a calf.

The Pies were brave all afternoon, winning the tackle count 71-45, but struggled to find a clear path to goal, with Jamie Elliot missing the game through injury.

The Eagles dominated possession form the start, Kennedy breaking loose to kick the first of his 3 goals. It was not until the 10 minute mark that the Pies made their first foray forward, a nice low pick up from Witts resulting in a De Goey mark inside 50. However, Collingwood’s pressure and defensive spread were much better than last week. Both teams seemed to have spares in defence and scoring was difficult. Cripps got a second for the Eagles, as Cloke took the red vest. But the substitute Blair made an immediate impact, crumbing at the feet of Jesse White for our first goal late in the quarter.

In the second quarter, our talls started to look dangerous. Grundy got on the end of a long, low kick from Fasolo to kick our second. Jesse White was the hit up target in that play; however, the oft-maligned recruit struggled to do that consistently, managing only 10 disposal and 0 goals for the match. Witts also pushed forward and was too tall for Schofield, kicking our third and when Fasolo marked and goal we hit the lead. However, a freakish soccer strike from Hill put the Eagles level. Despite Masten, Gaff, Sheed and Kennedy all missing gettable goals, the West Coast still went in to half time leading 34-30.

The third quarter started much the same as the second. Led by Naitanui in the ruck, the Eagles dominated the centre clearances (15-6) and the game was being played mostly in their forward half. Nevertheless, our tackle pressure was high and we went goal for goal, despite the lack of a forward line, with goals to Sidebottom, Swan and Fasolo. Sidebottom was everywhere, and Varcoe was working hard laying strong tackles in the backline then pushing forward with great effect. He has been a real bonus this year with his work-rate, tackling intensity and foot skills. Our backline was holding up pretty well under a weight of supply, and we went in to ¾ time just 7 points down.

However, we didn’t kick a goal in the last quarter. Our best chance came when Sidebottom gathered about 15m out on a slight angle, bust it seemed to hit the wrong side of his left boot as he snapped and missed. The goal umpire tried his best to help us: first ruling a Le Cras set shot to hit the post (overturned on review), then a touched call as Nathan Brown lunged in defence. Yet, despite a good run with the umps (frees 24-8), and wayward kicking from the Eagles, their

centre dominance and our lack of a forward structure were telling, as the Eagles piled on 4.5 to run out 31 point victors.

Why did we lose? Well, losing Trav in the first quarter hurt a lot. In the absence of Trav and Billy, Jesse White needed to step up, but once again proved he is not going to be the solution to our forward line woes. He crashed packs at times, but doesn’t get to enough contests or hold enough marks.

The stats said our disposal efficiency was reasonable (78%), but I lost count of the number of time players under little or no pressure kicked out on the full. There were at least 5. Marley and Oxley were the only defenders who seemed capable of hitting targets out of the backline. Nathan Brown was reasonable on Kennedy, but at times didn’t trust himself to kick. Frost did a nice intercept and run in the last quarter, but instead of kicking it long to our forward who had position he proceeded to toe poke the ball about 5 metres. We need a Ben Reid at either end, hopefully, at just 25, he can get over these soft tissue injuries.

On the positive side, Levi Greenwood played his first game for the year and was serviceable with 18 quality disposals and 7 tackles. With him, Crisp and Adams we will have a strong “inside” midfield in the years to come. Varcoe’s tackling was excellent, and Marley had a team high 13 contested possession among his 33. Crisp was hard at it with 11 contested, Pendlebury was his usual silky smooth self, and Sidebottom ran hard as always. Fasolo was our only multiple goal kicker and Grundy did well, pushing to the goal square and getting hands to the ball several times, but just not quite clunking it. Gee he is going to be a good player though when he gets a little stronger in the hips.

Overall, though, despite a brave effort, we did not have enough contributors and were not quite good enough. After a tough post-bye run, we will go in to the game against the Dogs next week needing a win to stay inside the eight.

The votes:

3. Marley Williams – aggressive, hard-nosed and skillful

2. Sidebottom – 37 touches, but caught ball watching at times to let others out the back, and missed a crucial goal in the last quarter

1. Pendlebury – 29 disposals at 90% efficiency & tough in the clinches

Honourable mentions: Oxley, Varcoe, Crisp, Swan

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