Round 19 – Collingwood v West Coast: Forty Glorious Minutes

Collingwood versus West Coast Eagles

4.35 pm, Saturday 30 July

MCG

 

by Dave Nadel

 

Before the start of the season, in various competitions, I had predicted West Coast Eagles to win the flag and Collingwood to finish somewhere between fifth and eighth. By Round 19 it is obvious that I was wrong about both teams. Injury plays a part in this; West Coast has been without its dominant ruckman Nic Naitanui for some weeks, and Collingwood has been missing half its starting forward line – Jamie Elliott and Dane Swan all season, Alex Fasolo for about half the season. But that is only part of the story. The truth is that I overestimated the abilities of both teams.

 

Western Australian teams are always at a disadvantage in terms of travel. Not only do they have to play ten games interstate – most of these involve long plane trips to the East Coast – but almost all of their trips involve a two hour time adjustment. The Queensland teams have to travel as far but most of their trips are within the same time zone. When the Eagles or the Dockers are playing well they seem to be able to cope with the tyranny of distance. When they are playing poorly they seem unable to win away from Subiaco. This year West Coast has been Eagles at home and (mostly) Budgies away.

 

Last year Collingwood had a lot of young players that I hoped would hit their straps coming into their second, third and fourth seasons. Some of them did – but injuries, ageing premiership-winning players and those youngsters failure to develop have seen the Pies go backwards from last season. This year they introduced another six first year players, which is good for the club’s future but not much help for the current season.

 

As the game began the question for most Pies barrackers was whether the team could avoid giving the Eagles a first quarter lead. Collingwood have been conceding the first quarter in most of their recent games – even ones that they subsequently won, such as against GWS. As it turned out they did lose the first quarter but only because they failed to kick straight. Unlike previous weeks they did manage to get the ball inside the 50-metre mark for much of the quarter.

 

The game was at its most exciting for the first forty minutes. Darcy Moore has been showing glimpses of his potential ever since he was first selected, but as a young tall everyone knew that it would take time for him to hit his straps. This match was almost his breakout game. For nearly forty minutes he dominated the Collingwood forward line. He took six marks (including a couple of absolute speccies), kicked three goals and two behinds, and generally imposed his presence on the forward fifty in the way that Travis Cloke used to a few years ago when he was at his peak. Darcy’s Dad, double Brownlow medallist Peter, was an athletic ruckman in a period when most ruckmen were not particularly athletic. Darcy, at this age, looks even more athletic than Peter was. It was an extraordinary performance which earned young Moore a Rising Star nomination.

 

And then suddenly Moore was no longer on the field. 774 Grandstand reported that he was in the rooms being treated for “hamstring tightness”. It took Collingwood until three quarter time to get some semblance of structure back into its forward line. Even in the last quarter most of the Pies’ goals were kicked by midfielders, which has been the case all year. Aish and Sidebottom kicked two goals each for the match compared to Cloke and White’s one goal each. West Coast was kept in the game by its forwards, especially Darling and Kennedy while its midfielders, apart from Gaff and Priddis, underperformed. Collingwood’s midfielders won the game, while its forwards, except for Moore’s forty minutes, underperformed.

 

While Moore’s performance drew everyone’s attention, another player was also having a brilliant game. Brodie Grundy had 45 hitouts, 19 disposals and five marks. Ever since his dominating game against Shane Mumford, Grundy has entered the ranks of the game’s top ruckmen. He was probably beaten narrowly by Goldstein last week but even then he still played well around the ground. Considering that Collingwood drafted him with pick 18 a few years ago, he is probably the clubs best bargain since Dane Swan.

 

All Collingwoods’ midfielders played well, in particular our GWS recruits, Adams and Treloar, our Queensland recruits Aish, Crisp and Smith, and country Victorian products Pendlebury and Sidebottom. (Actually all these players are Victorians apart from the South Australian James Aish and the rookie Josh Smith who really is from Queensland)

 

So in the end I went home quite happy about Collingwood’s performance. Except that in the end Collingwood will not be playing in the Finals and they defeated a team who will not win any finals matches played East of the Nullarbor. I am looking forward to a better 2017 and I suspect the Eagles’ fans are too.

 

Collingwood              2.5       7.7       8.11     13.13   (91)    

West Coast Eagles    4.2       5.2       9.3       11.6     (72)

 

Goals   Collingwood: Moore 3; Aish 2, Sidebottom 2; Treloar, Maynard, Crisp,

White, Greenwood , Cloke:

West Coast Eagles:   Darling 4; Crisp 2, Hill 2, Kennedy 2; Masten;

 

Best     Collingwood: Grundy, Adams, Pendlebury, Treloar, Sidebottom, Moore

West Coast Eagles:   Gaff, Darling, Priddis, Shuey, Kennedy

 

Umpires: Donlon, Schmitt, Brown.

 

Malarkey Votes: Grundy (Coll) 3, Adams (Coll) 2, Gaff (WCE) 1.

*Had Darcy Moore not damaged his hamstring and instead played 100 minutes with something approaching the skill and intensity of the 40 minutes that he did manage to play, I have no doubt that he would have won three Malarkey and three Brownlow votes.

Comments

  1. DBalassone says:

    Well summed up Dave. Moore’s 40-45 minute burst was a sight to behold. His timing was perfect; leaping at just the right the moment to take his opponent out of the contest and then being able to take the one-grab mark fully stretched – a natural. Let’s hope his hammy is better than his old man’s was in September ’81.

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