Round 18 – GWS v Collingwood: Dipping into despair

It is true footy is a leveller. The rollercoaster can send you flying upwards for a weekend when your team beats the odds to secure a glorious victory. But just as quickly you can be sent spiralling into disappointment, thudding to the ground after a shock loss. On Saturday, the steep drop that Collingwood took sent me into a dismal lurch.

 

Collingwood had been over-hyped as the best travellers after their win over West Coast. Sure, they seem to win the majority of interstate trips they take, but even a passionate Pies fan knows they don’t accumulate too many frequent flyer points. But something about the trip to Western Sydney felt comfortable. We play well there. Not always coming away with a win, but it’s always competitive. If they had won undermanned against West Coast, the shorter trip north should be less confronting.

 

But when the beautiful Sydney twilight sun shines on the players, something doesn’t feel right. For some reason the now-fit Scharenberg remains languishing in the VFL, alongside last year’s saviour in Goldsack. When young Appleby stands next to Finlayson and Howe returns for his usual assignment on Cameron, it’s obvious the Pies’ staff may have missed a trick. Despite Coniglio, Kelly and Ward all being out, the likes of Taranto and Whitfield only had to break the chains to send the ball down to a dangerously tall forward line. And in the first quarter, they do just that.

 

In the post-game press conference Buckley will refer to the lack of pressure on GWS midfielders leading to the first quarter onslaught, but that can’t be the only reason. Sure, the midfield lacked in grunt (even with Adams returning to the set up), but some quick kicks forward still managed to fall into the burly laps of Finlayson, Cameron and Mumford. The latter was an underrated return – his presence and physicality inspired his teammates onto greater intensity. Howe started off strongly against Cameron, so Finlayson set the tone on poor Appleby, dragging his Coleman Medal-leading teammate into the game. Whitfield staked his claims for the crown of the most dangerous player in the competition, slicing through black and white jumpers with breathtaking precision.

 

Only an early goal to Brown gave Collingwood reason to applause. Putting the Pies in front by a goal, jangling nerves appeared to be settled. Seven goals to the Giants followed and the result was never in doubt. GWS were superb. Keeffe niggled Cox out of it, and Leon Cameron worked out that double-teaming Mihocek stopped the cohesion of Collingwood’s forwards. De Goey couldn’t go forward when the ball sat perched in the Giants’ forward 50. Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Adams and Grundy all attempted to drag their team out of the quicksand, but frustrating turnovers from Treloar meant the clearances never amounted to anything special. When GWS went forward, it was direct and brutal. If Whitfield’s kicks were graceful slices, Taranto and Deledio hacked it forward with a strong thrust for the gut. Even the superb intercept marking form of Roughead couldn’t prevent the GWS talls from feasting. Himmelberg joined in and signalled his capabilities. He’s arguably more important to the Giants then Cameron is.

 

At quarter time I set the laptop screen down, stunned. A sunny afternoon, a hopeful day. All shattered. It all happened so quickly that no emotions filtered through. In damage control, my mind flickered to wondering how Collingwood could save face.

 

A gritty second quarter looked like the Pies were pushing back with all their might. But old Heath Shaw led his defence brilliantly. One can only miss him. Two goals, both to a lucky Crocker who fought strongly in a forward line shooting blanks, wasn’t enough compensation for the exertion. A late Giants goal lopped the head off the black and white snake.

 

Throughout the second half, Collingwood broke the game open and played like they needed to from the get-go. Pendlebury and Sidey were influential, both kicking some dazzling goals. Adams showed he could pick up from his 2018 form. Grundy was a colossus, showing his development by responding to Mumford’s physicality wonderfully. Brown found some form, covering for Varcoe and Crocker’s lack of pressure. But just when the Pies looked like they could cut back the margin to a manageable amount, the orange surge of handballs and sheer pace resulted in another straight kick flying through the goals. They were a machine, not ‘the machine’, but a sleeker model that was rarely seen by the public. And if they can refrain from breaking down come September, this sports car that resides in Sydney’s West could find the breakneck form they have always promised to play on the big stage. For us beaten black and white, a grudge match against the Tigers will determine whether we’re worthy of a double chance or if the bid for a cup may not be as strong as once hoped.

 

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY   8.2   9.2   13.5  19.8 (122)
COLLINGWOOD                        1.1   3.2    7.7   11.9 (75)

GOALS
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 6, Finlayson 4, Himmelberg 3, Greene 2, Daniels, Reid, Simpson, Hill
Collingwood: Brown 2, Crocker 2, Pendlebury 2, Sier, Sidebottom, Hoskin-Elliott, De Goey, Grundy

BEST
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron, Taranto, Williams, Greene, Whitfield, Shaw
Collingwood: Grundy, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Crisp, Adams,

INJURIES
Greater Western Sydney: TBC
Collingwood: Mayne (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Meredith, Williamson, Wallace

Official crowd: 15,467 at Giants Stadium

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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Comments

  1. It was depressing watching GWS play through Appleby, particularly when Sharenberg’s experience and height seemed a more likely selection. Cox got his hands (and chest) to half a dozen ‘marks’ and took none. The Pies have a pretty handy team out injured and appear to be running on fumes. Unless Cox can find the form he showed in last year’s final against the Tiges and Mihocek and DeGoey get some space, they will be vulnerable to another belting from the resurgent Tiges.

  2. What a topsy-turvy season. I reckon it’d best to be a neutral observer. Following a team like Adelaide has made my dear wife plead with me not to watch and go read a book. Silly me, i can’t resist and soon I’m i become so frustrated with the rubbish served up, I take up her suggestion.

    For sanity’s sake, let’s hope the Power, Hawthorn and Collingwood all lose this week (sorry BJ).

  3. PS At least poor old Yoshi would be happy this week with his Sainters bringing home the bacon.

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