Round 22 – Collingwood v Port Adelaide (Floreat Pica Society)

by Steve Fahey


As noted in my late week plea for a match report writer, this game signaled 1806 days since our last final against the same opponent at the same venue. That day ended in dejection, reflection and ejection, this one ended in elation, celebration and expectation as we booked ourselves a spot in September.



For three quarters it was a cracking finals-like and finals-standard game before we blew them out of the water with a dominant quarter of footy that stands as a marker of our improvement this year.



A hail storm blew in about 45 minutes before the first bounce, but sunshine prevailed as the match began.  After an early goal to De Goey following a hack forward of questionable length by Adams, we were on the back foot for the next 15 minutes as Port controlled the ball and went fast and direct into their forwards against our inexperienced backs.  We stayed in the contest through our ferocious tackling, which was rewarded on multiple occasions, and our efficiency when we went forward, scoring 4.2 from our 10 entries, with Cox particularly dangerous.  We held a narrow and somewhat improbable lead at the first break after a late goal to Mihocek, who always seems to hit the scoreboard.



We played a great quarter of footy in the second quarter, starting with three quick goals, the best of which was a goal line pickpocket to the super impressive Stephenson. We absolutely smashed them in the clearances and around the ball, with Adams, Grundy and Sidey dominant.  Adams played the best quarter of his career, amassing 16 possessions and scoring a decisive late goal.  At half time his stats looked just ridiculous, something like 23 possessions, 5 score involvements, 5 contested ground balls,  6 clearances and 6 tackles, building on the advantage presented by big Brodie.  Yes, he did turn one over that cost a goal, but when you have those sorts of numbers, you can get away with that. We really dominated this quarter and with 16 scoring shots to 9, probably should have been further ahead at the main break than the handy 17 point break we enjoyed.  Port’s accuracy was keeping them in the game.



The third quarter began eerily reminiscent of the diabolical third quarter we put in against the Swans a couple of weeks ago.  They won a series of centre clearances way too easily and the Ryder/Madgen match-up was working very favourably for them as big Paddy kicked his third as they quickly closed the margin.  Alarm bells were ringing, and a period of about 15 minutes followed in which we managed to halt their momentum and turn the game into a fierce slog.  Robbie Gray, who had been well held by Tommy Langdon, missed a chance to put them in the lead before we had a few half opportunities that weren’t converted.  The first really decisive moment of this close contest occurred when Oxley received a free kick about 70 metres from goal, followed by a moment of ill-discipline from Motlop and a trigger-happy ump provided a very precious  50 metre penalty which The Ox converted to give us a valuable 13 point buffer at the last change. Mayne was superb (yes, read on, this report has been correctly edited) during this quarter, having 12 disposals for the quarter, winning countless hard balls and ending the first three quarters with the highest kicking efficiency in the match (for those with 8 kicks or more).  I’m not sure if his nickname is Lazarus, but if not, it should be seriously considered.



The second really decisive moment of the contest came in the opening minutes of the last quarter, as Port went deep forward to a 2 on 2 contest. Our two were Maynard and the debutant Murphy, who had made a solid contribution to date, looking composed.  Our pair looked in an inferior starting position as the ball came in, but Maynard’s first effort was strong and initially neutralized the contest.  As Port added another number to the contest, they looked like scoring as their player (I think it was Rockliff) ran towards goal with the ball.  Maynard launched himself at the player and brought him to ground, winning a free kick less than 10 metres from their goal.  Inspirational stuff, and the start of what was a brilliant and powerful statement about our footy a-la-2018.  The inside 50s for the quarter were 26-7 as we controlled the game, winning the ball, surging forward and putting huge pressure on their defence when they tried to get it out.  Port put extra defenders back, but then had no-one to kick it to, in what was a decisive win for both our players and coaching staff.




Both clubs’ seasons and finishing positions had been on the line at ¾ time, their situation considerably more precarious than ours. Thirty minutes later we knew a fair bit more about both teams, and in both cases, the findings confirmed popular perceptions.   We are playing with a strong team ethic, great belief, really positive intent and an effective game plan that features multiple forward  threats and huge adaptability. I wondered what on earth Phillips was doing starting forward today, but two goals in the first half later, Bucks had pulled the right rein yet again this year.  As for Port…



Sydney beating GWS was the cream on the cake of a great day for the club, with a top four finish now in our own hands. Had the Saints gotten over the Hawks, that would have been a second tier on the cake, but regardless, we will end the round in third spot.  This is a considerable achievement given both where we have been the past few years and the wretched run of injuries.  For the second week running we ended the game with no new injuries, with De Goey again put on ice for the late minutes of the game.  We are now 13-3 when he has played and 1-4 when he hasn’t.



As noted earlier, this was a solid team performance, with the less prominent all making contributions.  The experienced players in the backline – Langdon, Crisp, Greenwood (who did a solid job on Wingard) and now Maynard is in that group should take a bow for their leadership with some very young teammates.  And a pat on the back to The Assassin on his 200th game, he has been a fine contributor since he came across from Geelong, impressing all with his attack on the contest.



The votes for this game will be read out at the Horsburgh Medal function.  Of those will be considered for votes, a few comments (in no particular order):

  • the much maligned Langdon’s job on a great player in Robbie Gray was critical to the result
  • Grundy is a colossus, our best ruckman since Len Thompson, and he might yet turn out to be better.  His statistics from this game were again remarkable.
  • Sidey and Pendles have been outstanding leaders this season and again were prominent after being well held early.
  • Crisp has had an outstanding season and was good again – those steak knives turned out to be made of sterling silver.
  • Adams was outstanding in the first half as noted previously, and Mayne had a good game and a fantastic second half
  • Maynard played a terrific game and has had a very solid year.



We still have a lot of work to do and desperately need Howe back in the back half and possibly Moore (who would be a massive risk to play in a final, even moreso if Treloar was to also get back).  It still looks like there might be 2 or 3 better than us, but you have to be in it to win it and as the last couple of seasons have shown, if the winds blow your way in September, anything can happen.



For now, I am savouring the moment and looking forward to being ridiculously nervous in September for the first time in years.


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