Round 23 – Collingwood v Essendon: A wonderful Friday signalling greater things to come

We’re coming out the deep end. Winter’s slowly ending, and Friday night gave all of us Melbournians hope for what is to come in September and beyond.



The sun out all day, trying to warm up the cold CBD on a regular Friday. Instead of traversing across Melbourne via public transport, it seemed the perfect afternoon for a walk. Walking along Birrarung Marr, the MCG stood as ominous and breathtaking as ever. Before long, it loomed before me, and once again I was blown away by the grandeur of the massive stadium.



Fast forward a couple of hours and the sun had set to a blistering cold night. With no cloud cover to trap any heat from the sun in, over 85,000 people huddled together inside Australia’s Colosseum to watch a game between two traditional rivals.


From a Collingwood view, the start wasn’t great. Mihocek got off the hook early, slotting two majors and providing that tall focal point that a Cox-less Collingwood yearns for. But other than that, Essendon, with many good players out, made a great fist of it. The lack of personnel, alongside the big Friday night stage, brought out a daring style of play that was fast and decisive through the centre corridor. McDonald-Tipungwuti was electric, playing for the rowdy crowds. They went into the first break ahead by three goals, with only a wonderful Callum Brown pass to Josh Thomas keeping the Pies in it.



The more mature Collingwood line up took stock and bounced back. They sensed the crowd was building, that a win was necessary for any top four aspirations. They also had a bevvy of players missing, but were able to get the game on their terms. Elliott began to look dangerous, beating Saad on a lead and providing a spark in the forward 50. Mihocek continued to be a handful, especially when Hurley went down. Likewise Collingwood looked vulnerable when Greenwood knocked out Scharenberg and ended his match early.


Varcoe continued his vibrant form, weaving through traffic and crumbing to perfection. Grundy was having a day out in the ruck – would it be a Brownlow-clinching performance? Recent history tends to tell us no, but Grundy has never conformed to history (as his 21 contested possessions would attest). Roughead finally found confidence up forward, making solid leads and drifting in for a terrific mark and goal. The quarter was Collingwood’s, and they brought the margin back to a level contest at the main break.


Both teams continued to move the ball quickly. There were mistakes, but it sure wasn’t a bad game as the Sherrin was zinging. The crowd noise was growing as the match continued to be close. Tippa, quiet in the second quarter, came back to the fore with the help of some lucky ducking free kicks. Merrett and Shiel were both fighting against the tide in the middle, and would hold their own until the final stages.


Mihocek continued to be a thorn in Essendon’s side. His confidence grew by the mark, and he began to rampantly dominate the air. While he became a massive aerial presence, Elliott was unstoppable on the ground. With barely any goalkickers, Collingwood used what they had well. The scores stayed level to the last break, the crowd wary of a tight finish.


Phillips broke open the second half, running hard on a wing and often finding himself with plenty of space to use the ball damagingly. In the opening minute of the last quarter he duly found Elliott, and the Pies gained a lead. But Essendon held on for dear life, both sides dealing with injury scares. The Bombers, tired after their initial burst, were eventually broken through in the final five minutes. Grundy’s rock dominance became too much – Treloar, Pendlebury and Adams all shone while Mayne and Maynard held firm across half-back. Despite some terrible goal kicking in the final stages kept the margin close, Collingwood dominated the final stages and surged away for a vital win.


A beautiful night at the ‘G capped off by a Pies win, the mood was bubbling upon leaving the ground with many others. A massive crowd. A win that would ultimately gift Collingwood a top four spot. Good things are happening, and the Pies now shape as an underdog going into September. Essendon aren’t to be discredited too – they proved they may have what it takes to cause one of the great September upsets once re-stocked with talent.


COLLINGWOOD     3.1     6.7      8.9    10.16 (76)
              6.2     7.2     9.3      10.5 (65)


Mihocek 4, Elliott 3, Thomas, Roughead, Adams
Laverde 2, Ham 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, McKernan 2, Brown, Langford 


Grundy, Mihocek, Elliott, Pendlebury, Roughead, Treloar, Mayne
McKernan, Merrett, McDonald-Tipungwuti, McGrath, Parish 


Fans’ Best on Ground, in partnership with Google: Brodie Grundy


Scharenberg (concussion), Moore (hamstring)
Hooker (illness) replaced in selected side by Hartley, Hurley (shoulder) 


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Donlon, Hosking, Chamberlain


Official crowd: 85,405 at the MCG


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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