Round 7 – Adelaide v Collingwood: Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? (Floreat Pica Society)

by Steve Fahey for the Floreat Pica Society

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality

(And as one might have said to the umpires in the last quarter)

Open your eyes,
Look out for the Pies and see

Well, this was our most amazing and ridiculous win since…last week…and so many of the amazing and ridiculous wins we have had since the 2022 season started. This team just has incredible character and belief.  But back to that in a moment.


Pre-game ramblings

The fixture serves up some snakes and some ladders for every club each season. Our biggest 2023 snake is having to travel to Adelaide 5 days after the Anzac Day game.  Obviously we had to have a five-day break after a Tuesday fixture, but as Damian and others noted, this shouldn’t have been too big a challenge for the AFL- every year (or at least every year when the break is short) Collingwood could play Richmond the match after Anzac Day and Essendon play Melbourne, so the breaks are similar length, no-one has to travel after a short break and the clubs’ other marquee matches (Collingwood vs. Melbourne on the Figurehead’s Birthday and the Essendon v. Richmond Dreamtime clash) are protected. It seems simple, but….


One of the other quirks of our 2023 fixture is that we play in Adelaide three times during the home and away season, playing both the Adelaide teams and the Saints in the Gather Round.  Our record at the Adelaide Oval is strong, the equal third best winning percentage in the competition (before this game) and indeed slightly superior to the Crows.  Additionally, the Pies had won the past six against the Crows going into this game against their in-form opponents (and been unbeaten in our last seven as the game prior to that streak was the 2017 draw in which we led by 50 points at one stage). So there were grounds for confidence for reasons other than our very good form to date in the season, despite the short break, travel and the absence of Pendles and many of our better talls.


The game

We were absolutely smashed for the first 40 minutes of the game and the Crows could have put us away if they had better converted their utter dominance.  They didn’t.  Nine scoring shots to two in the first quarter and the trend continued early in the second quarter.  The Crows won contested ball and carved their way through our zone easily on multiple occasions with chains of uncontested marks as we looked tired and disorganised.

When we had the ball we made multiple kicking errors including from our kick-ins with Naicos making some very rare mistakes. It seemed like we were taking very aggressive options out of defence on a day in which the conditions were difficult and we paid the price for doing so. Our lack of size was highlighted when their talls took contested mark after contested mark and a very long day on the couch seemed on the cards. Kreuger’s early departure through injury yet again continued his more than passable impression of being a hybrid of Mark Orval, Lee Walker and Sean Rusling, so for the purposes of this report I will dub him Mark Walkling.

Midway through the second quarter, Frampton, who had been monstered in the early stages, put us on the board with a free kick goal. Some of our more experienced heads in the midfield including Crisp, Mitchell and Sidey then helped steady the ship and turn it into a contested ball-fest arm wrestle and battle for territory, which suited us. They were aided by a strong second quarter effort from our defence, with Moore and Murphy the best of them.  McCreery had been one of the few shining first half lights with his enormous tackling and pressure and Checkers kept us in the game with a couple of goals, including one clever intercept of an errant Crows backline pass.  Although we had been considerably outplayed, it was game on at half-time, due to a combination of the Crows’ inaccuracy and our pluck.  We trailed 3.4 to 3.10 and the inside 50 count was 22-30.

All of the first half goals had been scored at the one end – the non-scoreboard end or whatever else it is called at the Adelaide Oval (the river end – Ed).  Just as happened on Anzac Day, when 20 of the 24 goals were scored at the Punt Road end, there seemed no weather/wind reason for this, just the balance of play shifted.

This trend continued in the third quarter when the Crows regained their ascendance in the arm wrestle. While we were saved once by a score review, the Crows created lots of chances, aided by some Pies errors, including JDG grubbing a kick into inside 50 which they rebounded for a goal, and McCreery taking on a tackle in deep defence and ending up the loser. Our forays forward were largely scrubby and/or continued to be marked by their backs (contested marks were 2-15 at ¾ time and 4-17 at the end of the match) and our two goals for the quarter came from half-chances, an excellent rundown tackle by WHE and yet another toe-poke from near the line by Checkers. At ¾ time we trailed by 16 points and the inside 50 count had become 31-46.

When the Crows quickly kicked the first of the last quarter after a dopey 50 metre penalty conceded by Jaicos, the task looked tough, even though we all knew we had done this many times before. We needed four goals and had only kicked five, not dissimilar to the Anzac Day equation, but difficult conditions, a short break and how many times can you do this ?  Our ridiculous run of comebacks has produced some interesting consequences – not only do we believe, but opposition teams seem to adopt a position of defending their lead rather than trying to score, which plays right into our hands.

Our mids cracked in hard, with JDG, Adams, Crisp and Mitchell all lifting. Jaicos redeemed himself for the silly 50 metre penalty with a nice goal, then AJ, who had had a very quiet day, marked and kicked accurately and the Pies’ intensity and momentum were palpable, as it was on Anzac Day.  The ball was locked in our forward half for much of the quarter and our pressure was again outstanding, the second and third efforts of Naicos to block and then smother being a standout.

The Crows had both been the better team for much of the game and also had the rub of the green with the umpiring.  The umpiring in the last quarter was bizarre, especially the inexplicable non-decisions to Murphy (who copped a knock high enough to spill considerable blood in a marking contest in which he was characteristically bravely perched under the ball), followed by the insufficient intent against JDG as he sought to avoid the injured Murphy and the medical staff leaving the field, when the game clearly should have been stopped for the blood rule.  Then AJ copped a very high tackle when running into goal in the goal square and Crows defenders walked over the line with the ball a couple of times late in the game and the gung-ho approach to insufficient intent went out the window.  Fortunately I maintained a dignified composure at all times during these events (nose lengthening as I type these words) and Holly and Paul Russo joined in a chorus of disbelief, which was audible at the other end of our house if not the other end of the street.

We kept coming and edged closer with points.  Noble’s long goal to bring us within a point was both a beauty and our fifth goal from stoppages, finding an avenue to goal in the absence of any contested marks forward.  AJ then levelled the scores with a tap over his head from the goal square.  Although Billy Elliott looked at him askance, I thought it was a clever play in the difficult conditions, a draw looked a lot better than we looked likely to achieve for the majority of the game and it changed the psychology of the game.  A camera pan of the Crows bench when scores were level told the story – they looked dejected and like they had lost, even though there was plenty of time left on the clock.

The Crows then attacked from the play following the kick-in and looked more likely than us to score before a great spoil from WHE and we then transitioned the ball down the field with WHE again involved and finding Old Man Sidey (he just keeps rolling) 30 metres from goal.  While Swans’ fans still talk about Plugger’s point after the siren in the 1996 Prelim, we will talk about Sidey’s point (and Troy Lehmann’s point to beat the Eagles in Perth in 1992).   Darcy capped a magnificent game and a memorable win by taking a saving mark seconds before the siren and the Pies had done their Harry Houdini act yet again.

Anthony Hudson’s final siren utterance said it all – “In the city of churches, it’s another Collingwood miracle!” And I had been wrong yet again – we hadn’t needed four goals to win, our 3.6 to 0.1 after their early goal had been enough.

Some really interesting analysis of the dying moments in two clips here.  I don’t buy for a moment that Sidey meant to kick a point -if he kicked a goal the worst-case scenario is a draw, the point meant all results were still possible.


The reflections

We were travelling off a short break with key players out against an in-form opponent.  We were absolutely smashed in the first 40 minutes and could have/should have been put away and we lost one of our already outnumbered talls injured early (yes, Mark Walkling). We didn’t get the rub of the green, especially in the last quarter, and it turns out that the skipper and our best player in the game was ill before the game and in doubt.

We didn’t play particularly well, shouldn’t have won and yet again we did, making it one of the great home and away wins in the history of the club.

I reckon the three goalkickers in the last quarter sum up this team and effort. Jaicos and Noble both had plenty of the ball, made critical errors at vital stages and yet kept on coming, did plenty right and kicked crucial goals.  AJ had a very quiet game but converted his only set shot opportunity for the game, should have had a free in the goal square and then had the smarts and presence of mind to tap the ball over his head for a point to put us level for the first time since the early minutes.

It really is a remarkable run and a remarkable team which finds a way, players who have been down find a way to contribute and the system and the belief are strong.  It’s a joy and privilege to watch and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it, albeit all these close finishes can’t be good for our hearts!


The votes for the prestigious Michael Horsburgh Medal

While the three votes were easy to award, the two and one were difficult due to lots of players making patchy contributions in a high-pressure game with many skill errors in greasy conditions.

3- Darcy -outstanding play and leadership.

2- Maynard- provided great drive and leadership – it’s hard not to love his fierceness at the ball and any opponent who upsets him or anyone else in a Pies’ jumper (which is often).

1- Checkers – had few possessions, but kept us in the game with his three goals in a low-scoring contest and just finds a way.

Honourable mentions to Sidey, McCreery, Murphy, Jaicos, Naicos, Noble, JDG. And if the game was only the last two minutes, WHE was BOG.


The medal

In a week in which concussion and head injuries have again been the topic of much discussion, the Rintoul-Seedsman Medal goes to Darcy.

I’m sure he would make a great speech upon receiving the medal – a day after Kate Halfpenny described him as the most articulate person in Australia, he drops the F-Bomb in his half-time interview!

Onto next week against the Swans in a very rare home game against them.




ADELAIDE                  3.6     3.10     6.15     7.16 (58)
COLLINGWOOD         0.2      3.4      5.5      8.11 (59)

Adelaide: Pedlar 2, Jones 2, Walker, Sloane, Rankine
Mihocek 3, Noble, Johnson, Hoskin-Elliott, Frampton, J.Daicos 

Adelaide: Nil
Kreuger (ribs)

Adelaide: Harry Schoenberg (replaced Jake Soligo in fourth quarter)
Will Kelly (replaced Nathan Kreuger in first quarter)

Crowd: 43,942 at Adelaide Oval





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