Round 21 – Melbourne v Collingwood: One’s slowly building, the other’s crumbled away


Melbourne v Collingwood

1:45pm, Saturday August 10




For all the rule changes, for all the debates and for the incidents of controversy, 2019 is turning into a fine year of AFL footy. With only a handful of games left in the home and away season, each game is becoming pivotal in its own unique way. On Saturday afternoon at the resplendent MCG, the Melbourne v Collingwood clash highlighted the complete change in fortunes for two teams who went deep in September 2018.


The Pies had undergone a year that was differently yet utterly similar to 2018. Full of injuries at poor times and a sprinkling of controversy, the black and white army had seen their team start off solidly, before a mid-season form slump against top teams being slowly turned around. On Saturday, parts of the match suggested they are beginning to rise out of their winter hibernation in time for September.


Melbourne had lost all confidence. With a lack of key players early in the season, no consistency or chemistry had been built. At the ‘G, in front of fewer fans than they would have pencilled in at the season’s start, they once again frustrated with their unconfident approach to taking on a big team.


The game spluttered in the first stanza. Collingwood struggled to get going, unable to use the ball well enough to get their running game up and going. When it did get forward, the new makeshift forward line without Mason Cox underwent a nervy start in front of goal. Melbourne were up to the challenge, yet struggled to put any dominance on the board. Petty scored a late major to give them a slender lead at quarter time in what was a uniquely quiet contest.


But Collingwood came out to prove they are building into a formidable outfit once more. The second term, despite an early Melbourne goal, belonged to the black and white. Adams’ confidence grew the more times he extracted the ball out the middle. Grundy began to tip the scales against Gawn. Pendlebury broke the deadlock with a silky goal, and Mihocek rose to the fore like he always does when he is needed most. This dominance continued into the third quarter.


Varcoe had taken on more responsibility and slotted two goals for his lively presence. Thomas chipped in with a major and some wonderful pressure. Both, despite a poor beginning to 2019, were beginning to find their feet at the right time. Hoskin-Elliott continued his solid form from the previous week, while Mihocek continued to be a thorn in Melbourne’s side.


Petracca appeared to be one of the only Demons cracking in hard when Collingwood flew away. The Pies were six goals up and the strong number 5 was fending defenders off and executing clever kicks. He needs to become a midfielder – his impact was wonderful each time he got it but his touches were scarce in a quiet forward line. Lever and May had their moments, both good and bad, but were both disappointingly thwarted by Mihocek. Roughead was well held in his first crack at the forward and second ruckman role, but more time there may prove the magic tonic.


The match was cracked open in the middle quarters, and was capped off by a superb running goal by Crisp. He and Maynard were rock solid off half back, feeding off Howe and Scharenberg with superb bounce. The last quarter fizzled into a similar pattern as the first quarter. Melbourne trimmed the margin to a respectable number, but it won’t cover up what has been a horror year. 2020 will be a big year for Goodwin and the red and blue, who must prove this disintegration is an anomaly. For Collingwood, they are steadily rising to form and will be hoping for results to go their way in order to mount another threatening finals campaign. But they aren’t there yet. The light is only beginning to flicker on.



MELBOURNE          1.4     2.6     3.8     7.11     (53)
COLLINGWOOD     0.5     5.6     9.8     10.10     (70)



Melbourne: Petty, Brayshaw, Fritsch, Petracca, Hunt, O.McDonald, Gawn
Collingwood: Mihocek 4, Pendlebury 2, Varcoe 2, Thomas, Crisp


Melbourne: Petracca, Harmes, Frost, Brayshaw, Oliver, Fritsch
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Mihocek, Maynard, Grundy, Pendlebury, Howe


Crowd: 31,903




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  1. Henry Ballard says

    Nice review Sean. As a Melbourne fan I genuinely need a recap like this having not paid much attention to the match over the weekend (for obvious reasons).

    It’s hard not to daydream that they’ll come out over summer and admit they were trying some radical tactics that didn’t come off. Unfortunately I fear the reality is closer to a lack of discipline and conditioning.

  2. Sean,
    I reckon that the demise of Melbourne is the big (and large untold) story of season 2019. From prelim finalists to cellar-dwellers? Very very interesting.

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