Round 17 – Collingwood v Gold Coast: Floreat Pica Society Report

This week’s Collingwood match report for the Floreat Pica Society is from James Fogarty.

Hi all,


Here’s the match report.


In a word, it’s “phew”.


For the report, I thought I’d take the “line coach” approach. (Do we even have those after all the Covid budget cuts?) Backs, mids/ruck, forwards.




Our back-line is (just) holding up. Howe is a huge loss, and who knows when/if Langdon will return. I must admit that I have been a Madgen doubter, and last week had to admit to a friend that he had been better. That form mostly continued last night, although that moment in the first quarter where he berated his teammates to “use their brains” did seem a little ironic given he had just dropped a chest mark. Sexton was all over us in the first quarter, but it seemed mostly a case of “right place, right time”. When you see Madgen in the “ranking points” box on the telly at quarter time, you know something has gone wrong. Thankfully, our backline wasn’t tested as much in the following three quarters.


I’m surprised that Scharenberg doesn’t have a place in our back six. He is better with the ball than most others, and effective ball use off half-back is crucial to our game if we are going to continue to switch the play so regularly.


Maynard continues to be a competitive beast. His two mangled kick-ins will be cut into clips for endless Fox Footy analysis, but I’m willing to put it down to bad luck in what seemed to be (at times) a slippery footy. I know both cost us goals – and perhaps my thoughts would be different if we lost – but seeing him charge with a head full of steam into the next contest to make amends was fantastic. That’s the kind of spirit you love to see.


Crisp continues to impress, too. His goal-saving tackle on Nick Holman was an obvious highlight (only to be overshadowed by Cox’s goal on the other end of that play). He played a great game for his 150th. Having run and carry off half-back with Crisp and Quaynor (who looks right at home already) will makes a huge difference for us. They are both lovely kicks and when you’re playing a 2.11m Texan, you need good kickers. Noble, who plays a similar game, flies under the radar. He is much improved, though, and seems to have ironed out the uncertainties he obviously had whenever he found himself with the ball in his first few games.


Finally, Moore is a star. He rarely gets a break (92% time on ground last night; 96% v Brisbane; 93% v Carlton) but his body seems to be holding up. Even though we were desperate, it was bizarre to see him go forward again last week, when the issue wasn’t so much a forward target as our ball movement into the forward 50. With Day and King up forward, Moore provided invaluable support to Roughead and Madgen. At the moment, Moore is doing enough to cover any cracks in their defensive games – but the last time we beat a top eight team was back in July against the Cats, so it remains to be seen if our back six can hold up in the finals. Let’s hope we can avoid Kennedy, Darling and Allen, who combined for eleven goals in Round 8.



Midfield and ruck.


There were certainly some concerning signs in the first quarter. We were down in clearances 5 to 11, and Pendlebury didn’t touch the ball. That was just the fourth time in his 313-game career. Apparently the last time that happened was in Round 12, 2009 (when he was injured) while the other two were in his first season. He recovered – of course – and finished the game well. Still, it certainly wasn’t a standout performance.


As with Pendlebury, clearances evened out over the next three quarters, but Grundy’s impact remains a concern. Admittedly, Witts is a worthy opponent, but Grundy just isn’t having the same impact around the ground. For one, he’s not finding the footy as much. In 2018, he averaged 20 touches a game; in 2019, 21 touches; this year, he’s down to 15. One of the huge advantages of Grundy was always that it was like having an extra midfielder. That’s not the case at the moment, and yesterday was no different. Perhaps his lofty standards of the past two years are leading me to judge him too harshly. We have one more game to figure it out before finals.


Only Elliot and Lemmens (who was injured in the first quarter) spent less time on the field than Treloar, and yet Treloar still amassed 26 touches. Quite extraordinary in these shortened games. While he found the ball a lot, I’m not sure he had a huge impact on the game. He provided good run and some grunt at times, which was important given Adams was quieter than usual.


Daicos continues to improve. For every leap forward he’s taken, it seems Callum Brown has stalled. This was probably best exemplified when Brown attempted an impossible dancing goal on the goal line – it’s the kind of thing you could almost imagine Daicos pulling off, based on his recent form, but Brown was predictably caught by the four Suns who surrounded him. I’m not sure how effective the scratch matches they’re playing each week are. I wonder if Brown would still be in the team if there was a VFL system to send him back to in order to regain some form.




Our forward line really was the story of the game.


(Before I sing the praises of De Goey, I can’t shake the uneasiness of writing about him when he is facing sexual assault charges on October 30. Today, Sydney’s Elijah Taylor has been stood down, after being charged with aggravated assault in WA. It certainly seems like there is one rule for the stars, and another for everyone else.)


Having De Goey back makes a huge difference for our whole system. We move the ball forward with so much more confidence when we know that he’s at the end of the chain. Last night every De Goey touch was within the forward 50 – a clear difference to his last game against Geelong, where he pushed up to the wings, and against Essendon, where he found himself, at times, all the way down back. Having him stay forward means we can take more risks moving forward, and our entries don’t have to be perfect as he’s never out of a contest, even when the ball isn’t to his advantage. When Cox is our deepest forward, our entries need to be “centimetre perfect”, and that’s almost never the case in 2020. As usual, there were some horrid kicks floating over the arc last night – Hoskin Elliot and Greenwood being a repeat offenders – but with De Goey in there, it doesn’t hurt us as much.


De Goey’s first goal, off the back of a strong tackle, showed a glimpse of the pressure our small forwards have been lacking. With Stephenson out, our small forwards were Varcoe, Thomas, and Elliot (who continues to spend time in the midfield as well). Varcoe laid just one tackle against the Suns. He’s played eight games this year, and only on three occasions has he laid more than one tackle. (He laid nine in the 2018 Grand Final.) He also missed a fairly regulation snap in the second quarter. Whether he’s playing half back or forward pocket, it seems his time is up. Thomas was disappointing in his 100th game, too. I doubt it’ll be long before Stephenson is back in the team.


And what can be said of Mason Cox’s performance? The September Specialist flicked the switch and suddenly couldn’t drop a mark. Since that Prelim, he had only taken more than two contested marks twice (Rounds 4 and Round 12 last year). This was a huge step up. His goal late in the third quarter was quite the sight. I hope it doesn’t inspire him to try it again against a mightier opponent in the finals, but here’s hoping Mason can continue that form into finals.


Final thoughts.


Gold Coast’s sloppiness after quarter time – they kicked 3.9 in the last three quarters – and strong performances from De Goey and Cox saved us having to beat Port to secure our place in the eight. That would’ve made for a very nervous week.


We’ve got the oldest list this year by a fair margin (our average age is 25.1), but of our 150+ game players, we’re missing Beams, Sidebottom, Mayne, Dunn, Howe and Reid. Thankfully, some of our young ’uns – Quaynor, Daicos, Noble – are stepping up in big moments. If we can get Howe and Sidey back in to our side for finals, we might just be in with a shot.


Go Pies. Floreat Pica.





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