Round 2 – Collingwood v Adelaide: Crows Murder Stone Cold Pies

written for the Floreat Pica Society by Phil Cornell

While excited about the prospect of a new season and on the back of an encouraging performance in Brisbane last Saturday, it was, nevertheless, with a significant amount of apprehension that Paul Harkin, my sons Rich and Nick, Rich’s friend Tim and I headed off to Etihad to watch the Pies take on the Crows, the first Melbourne engagement of 2015.  The most impressive aspect of Adelaide’s Round 1 win was its defensive pressure.  I wasn’t sure how the Maggies would be able to carve a path through ‘the press’, particularly when the Pies don’t seem to have anything approaching a system to bring the ball back into play after an opposition behind.  Furthermore, our ability to hit targets is shaky at best when pressure is applied.  However, perhaps the confines of an indoor stadium might provide Adelaide less room to move and the Maggies did tackle impressively last Saturday night.

However, my fears were realised and the longer the game went the greater the feelings of frustration and disappointment grew.  The game was essentially a contest between one team who, when they had the ball, patiently passed it to teammates in space and, when they didn’t, starved the opposition of time and space.  The Magpies, however, lacked the skills to do either of those things and couldn’t find an alternative to just bombing the ball.  Tom Langdon seems to have drawn the short straw over summer and has the responsibility of kicking in.  Time and again he’d kick to a pack.  The variation to this seems to be that he kicks the ball to himself, takes a few strides and then kicks to a pack.

The first quarter started as a defensive struggle.  Jack Frost started on ‘Tex’ Walker who gathered many of his early possessions at half back.  Goldsack started forward while Travis Cloke was working hard to push up the ground for his possessions.  Both sides were applying defensive pressure.  The Pies seemed to be doing OK in the ruck contests but the Crows midfielders were able to shark the ball as a 19 to 8 ‘Inside 50’ count at quarter time would suggest.  They simply got more of the ball and used it to better effect than Collingwood.

The second quarter saw Seedsman introduced for the injured Sinclair and he at least was one player able to hit targets.  However, Adelaide continued, and, in fact, increased its ascendency.  The game was long gone and by three quarter time the Crows has taken 15 marks inside 50 to the Pies 6.  During one period of the first half the Pies tried twenty two times to move the ball from defensive 50 to forward 50 for two successes.  At the 11 minute mark of the third quarter Tom Langdon marked and from 53 metres ignored three options, choosing to kick long into the goal square to two unopposed Adelaide players, one of whom took an uncontested mark. This summed up the Pies game plan.  Teams like Hawthorn move the ball quickly and accurately and long kicks to the forward line are often to one on one contests where their forwards can capitalise.  By the time the Magpies get in there, players are covered and any space is gone.

The last quarter can be largely discounted.  A ten goal lead saw the intensity drop and the Pies were able to kick six goals to 1.  The final margin flattered Collingwood.

I thought the forwards worked hard but were often outnumbered, had little room to move and had to contend with the ‘bomb’ against a well organised defensive unit.  Given the pressure it was under, the backline tried relentlessly but, again, weight of numbers won out.  The Crows were able to move the ball precisely enough into its forward line to provide enough opportunities to kick a winning score.

Next week it’s back to the ‘G’ against a team that last night received a confidence boost and has nothing to lose.  What would have been chalked up as a ‘W’ on the ladder a few weeks ago is now another challenge

The Jason McCartney Medal goes to Pendles.  Votes for the Floreat Pica Society’s Michael Horsburgh Medal were :

3…Scott Pendlebury – 32 disposals at an efficiency rate of almost 80% and just seems to find time and space where neither exist.

2…Adam Oxley –       33 disposals at an efficiency rate of nearly 80% when we struggled to hit a target.

1…Jarrad Blair –          3 goals. A bit controversial and I’m discounting the last quarter but he had two on the board when we were struggling to kick any and that was good enough for me.

Go Pies.

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