Round 20 – Richmond v Collingwood: Worst of the year (Floreat Pica Society)

by Peter Butler


The last time these two met it was a nail biter with the Mighty Pies clinching a great comeback win with the penultimate kick of the game having clawed back a 17 point deficit in the last five minutes. Hopefully they could win this one too though for the sake of those of an older age, without the ‘heart attack’ moments. The past few weeks since the bye has seen our heroes win against two finals bound teams, lose to two others when there were occasional times when we might have come back again, and down two lower ladder opponents.

By this time we really are out of finals contention, and looking to 2017, but would like to see which of the current squad shows promise for the future, apart from those injured at present, some we will not see this year at all again and one or two who may get the chance to show what they are made of.

I was quite looking forward to this game as after last week’s performance and the heavy loss suffered by Richmond; felt we could put another notch on the belt for 2016 and maybe in some style. The week’s focus on the troubled Tigers both on and off the field made me nervous. There is nothing like such a focus to also focus the players and coaching staff like a media frenzy saying your club is going nowhere fast and there are plotters in the wings ready to attack the board and administration. We should know it happens at Collingwood on an almost monthly basis, or used to until recent years when board stability has been maintained, but at a price?? This is not the time to open those arguments as I sure others will.

I was planning to take my seat in the Ponsford along with Dave Nadel, with whom I have been going to the footy since 1995, after meeting at an AGM in 1994; and Jim Kesselschmidt another mate of Dave’s who has joined us this year. However, a set of cold/flu like symptoms made me see sense and not risk the Friday night cold at the G and watch on telly. My report is based on my viewing of the game in the comfort of my lounge room, alone, as my wife had gone out since I was originally off to the G.

Some of the architects of the win earlier in the year were out injured, namely Fasolo and Moore, who would have been obvious choices if fit. There were some other changes from back in April, but they were mostly improvements.

I settled down to watch and was encouraged by a first ten minutes when we kicked 4 goals and lead by 25 points. Three were from free kicks, two to Cox, and both quite legit, despite the TV commentators saying the second was dubious and the third to Aish after a silly 50 metres by Riewolt. It then looked like how far but Richmond recovered and began to find too much space, which saw them claw back three goals before Cloke kicked one form the boundary line on the stroke of quarter-time. It was a quarter of two halves, the first ours and the second theirs. I did not feel we were going to perform as we did in the rest of the game as the initial burst was ok, however, the Tigers were finding too much room and also getting the ball out of the middle too easily in the latter part of the first quarter.

I had decided to text Dave at the game and my observations were that we had gone flat in the second part of the quarter. Crisp, Adams & Sidebottom seemed the better players.

The second quarter did not start as the first did and was  disappointing. Seemed to lose the aggression of last week and contested ball was down. Both Pendles and Treloar went missing in the second quarter, though they had not had much influence in the first either. The forwards were not presenting to the mids enough and the Tigers defence seemed to be able to outnumber our talls too easily. This has been a consistent them of mine in recent months if not years. We seem not to be able to kick to space for a forward to run into, rather kicking to a contest which we hope to win, especially when it has been Travis Cloke. This does not work now as Cloke is not taking the marks that he used to and it appears the rest of the league has worked him out. In addition the other tall forwards, are not getting into position where they can take marks, and even if they do the marks are not taken, especially White. Cox seemed lost too last night, especially after the first quarter.

The second quarter continued much the same as the latter part of the first, with the Tigers finding space, their midfield, particularly Cotchin, Martin, and Grigg getting lots of good ball, while our tackles were not sticking. However, Richmond could not open a big enough lead to begin to play with real panache. By half time a 14 point lead to us had been converted to a six point lead to them. Our defence appeared to be very loose, but then there was not enough pressure on the ball carrier or receiver. The forwards were still too static, evidenced by only one goal scored by Crocker. By half time Aish, Smith & Wills were showing a bit more while Sidey & Adams were continuing on with their form. Grundy had picked up his game and Howe was trying too. However the misses from this list were notable by their absence.

The second half started ok with a goal to Varcoe but then the Tigers kicked three of their own, sandwiched between was a first AFL goal for Wills, who was showing some effort and a bit of grunt. The goals to Richmond were to Riewolt (2) and Martin, who were proving to be real thorns in the side of our defence and midfield. As well as three goals there were up to three other scores that should have been goals. By three quarter time Richmond was up by 12 but it should have been more. No one other than those already mentioned picked up their game in the third quarter, and Sidebottom seemed to drop off the pace

The final quarter started well for the Pies with goals to Pendles & White, then to Aish, after some nice work by Wills. These were interspersed by a goal from Rioli, but it left the Pies 2 points up with about 6 minutes of time left, not including stoppages. About this time Pendles did an ankle and could not return to the fray; and considering he had really picked up his game in the last quarter it was a big loss. After that Richmond scored three times, without a behind and we could only manage three behinds, each of which could have been a goal.

The upshot of all this was a very disappointing loss and probably the worst performance of the year over the whole game. Neither team looked like finals material, since though Richmond looked better on the night, they did begin to stutter when we hit the front in the last quarter; and while we could not press home and take advantage, they steadied and scored three quite soft goals.

Well where does that leave us towards the end of a very frustrating season? There are a few of our best players missing especially from the forwards and defence. Moore and Fasolo both who would have presented better than the forwards on show, and also may have given Cox a better chance. We have not seen really Elliott, Ramsey (1), or Scharenberg at all, while Langdon and Sinclair have missed too many games. Swan was a really big loss for his experience and smarts; I can only hope he might get back, but then how good will he be at 32?

Yes we have been cruelled by injury, but who has not at times? I only hope the strategy is correct as there will be lots of supporters calling for blood if next year we do not play finals at the very least. It must be accepted that we have had a lot of players coming together for the first time this year right across the ground and with a relatively new game plan. My concern is that we do not have many tall forwards back in the seconds who may stand up next year. The other areas are, I think well covered, but you either need at least one very good tall up front as well as mids & smalls up there.

The burning question is what we do with Travis Cloke. He seems to have lost too much in terms of his marking; has been found out by others or does not really understand his role in the game plan? This is a question that must be asked, and answered at the end of the year.

It promises to be a long break between this and next season when we might well see some action at the top. Who knows??


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  1. Dave Nadel says

    Folks this report was not written by Richard Wiersema. It was written by Peter Butler.

  2. E.regnans says

    Thanks Dave.
    Attribution corrected. Well played, Peter.

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