Round 21 – Melbourne v Collingwood: Pies freeze out Dees (Floreat Pica Society)

by Steve Fahey for the Floreat Pica Society


At the start of the season this looked likely to be a late-season blockbuster in front of a big crowd, Instead it turned out to be 17th having lost three in a row versus 6th having won 2 of their last 5 on a bleak day in front of a small very cold MCG crowd.


The game lived up to the conditions and the teams’ form, being lacklustre overall, although as Peter Landy often said, it was a game of two halves.  This time around the halves were not sequential, with our middle quarters impressive and our bookend quarters uninspiring.


The first quarter showcased all the reasons why people say the game is not what it used to be. It was an abominable (note reference to weather, it has been a bumper weekend for snow football metaphors!) display by both teams, with both teams intent on getting numbers around and behind the ball.  Consequently it was a scrappy tackle-fest and we had no semblance of forward structure and little run.  We were out-marked at both ends of the ground and took zero marks inside 50 for the quarter. Better players were Howe, Maynard, Sidey and the much-maligned Thomas.  Many of the big names were quiet, especially Grundy, Pendles and Treloar. We trailed by 5 points at the first break, which was also our score.


Quarter highlights were:











The second quarter started in the same vein and I began to worry when the Demons put in their second goal courtesy of an ordinary free against Adams for holding the ball.  In what seemed a blink of an eye we upped the intensity, stopped allowing Melbourne the uncontested marks they had racked up to date, started winning some ball and spreading and getting the ball in a bit more quickly, at least partly because we had some structure ahead of the ball. Pendles put us on the board with a clever snap. We kicked four in eight minutes (many would say it was an avalanche!) after not scoring a goal for 35 minutes, and all four of the goals started with a turnover, our increased intensity being rewarded.   As they have for most of the season, Melbourne went from competitive and composed to a rabble very quickly.     (Many say that they have a lot of downhill skiers!)


Mihocek has the uncanny knack of bobbing up with a goal after he’s been quiet and he did it again, contributing two in our four goal patch. Grundy and Pendles got busy, Sidey kept up his incredible work rate and was very effective and Thomas and Brown were both very busy forward.


This set the tone for the second and third quarters, with the Pies kicking 10 goals to 1 at one stage.  There were some great individual highlights, Varcoe turning back the clock just before half-time with a fabulous crumb and left-foot goal.  He has found a bit of form in the past two weeks and it would be great if he can continue to build into September, his ferocious tackling and clever crumbing nicely complement some of the X-Factor that the missing duo De Goey and Stephenson provide when we are at our best.  Crisp provided another highlight with a long running goal he bounced through in the third quarter.  The third individual highlight was Madgen cleverly weaving around an opponent and into space, opening up the corridor and creating a shot on goal for Elliott, who struggled again, not making the most of his scoring opportunities. Sidey and Pendles ran riot during the third quarter and  combined for a lovely finish by the skipper.


At three quarter time, we had doubled our half-time lead from 18 to 36 points and percentage became a focus, it may determine whether we can land a top four spot IF we can win the last two games.  We fluffed an opportunity to build our percentage when we allowed Melbourne to kick the last four goals of the game, our mids looked tired and didn’t get back when we didn’t have the ball, creating lots of space for the Melbourne forwards who hadn’t got near it in the middle two quarters.


I would have happily taken a 17 point win at the start of the day, and while it was disappointing to miss the opportunity to build our percentage, we have put together a couple of wins in a row (admittedly against the two bottom teams) and have given ourselves a chance to make top four.  On top of that we got through without significant injuries.


The Gawn-Grundy battle was a bit of a fizzer, each seemed a bit preoccupied with the other and neither was at their best.  Brodie probably edged out big Max but neither were prominent.  Roughead did OK as a ruck relief but offered nothing other than structure going forward and if Moore returns, he is clearly a better option forward but they may not want to risk his body as a relief ruckman.  The other comment I will make about this game was that the holding the ball rule has become a complete raffle/mystery/disgrace/all of the above.  It’s a ridiculously hard game to umpire with all the numbers around the ball but they missed some very obvious ones today (e.g. Oliver running from a centre clearance) and in the context of what they didn’t pay plucked a pretty ridiculous one against Adams which cost a goal.


The votes will be revealed at the Michael Horsburgh Medal dinner on the Saturday night after the GF, more details to follow soon.  Those in consideration in alphabetical order were Checkers, Crisp, Howe, Pendles, Phillips, Sidey and Treloar and our best player afield will be awarded the John Dellamarta Medal. (Younger FPS members, he was a dashing half-back flanker who started at the Pies and played for both clubs in the 1970s, playing a total of 19 games).


Looking ahead, we have improved a little in the past two weeks, we need to improve a lot more to be a contender.  We are in a similar position to this time last year when we had Oxley, Madgen and Murphy playing in Rounds 21-23 and we scrambled some wins together to earn the double chance.  We need to get Moore, De Goey and Stephenson back and possibly Aish. I’d like to see Noble play as well, based on a small sample he looks like he has some dash and dare and offers that in relatively mature composed fashion (more like Jack Crisp than Sam Murray if I haven’t made my point clearly!). We don’t look like contenders at this time, but there are still 7 weeks to go and there are no standout teams who you think we couldn’t beat on our day.


When you start to ponder the blokes who would make way for those who will hopefully return, the stand outs would be Madgen (who was OK today) and Daicos (better than he has been but still not AFL standard).  Greenwood would be nervous based on his diabolical first half today but he is a mature strong body who also has a good record tagging against Geelong and Richmond. Wills was OK today and does some heavy lifting inside but will always be a fringe player and Elliott would want to improve with two forwards to return.  I’m not sure where Sier is in his rehab but on his form this year he is on the fringe, perhaps competing with Wills. Thomas has had an ordinary year and is no longer an automatic selection but I thought his first half today was his best of the season, even though he pinched a goal from Cal Brown on the line!


May we continue to win!


Floreat Pica




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: May (hamstring)
Collingwood: Daicos (concussion)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Harris, Gianfagna, McInerney

Official crowd: 31,903 at the MCG



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