Round 7 – Geelong v Collingwood: A boxing bout with the mentality of chess at Collingwood’s second home

Geelong v Collingwood

6:10pm, Thursday July 16

Perth Stadium



Something about the newly-built Optus Stadium in the great state of WA is enigmatic.


It’s a colossus that has only been enjoyed by the eyes of yours truly from a television screen. My first true memory of the place was 2018, when the Pies took on West Coast in a tightly-fought qualifying final. Immediately, the black and white looked at home. The similar dimensions to the MCG allowed them to play their natural game, yet they still went down in a nailbiter to a side who would crush Collingwood souls for the second time just three weeks later.


Last year my beloved Pies got their revenge. After weeks of poor form, a Friday night showdown at the imposing arena resulted in a one-point win. From then onwards, Optus Stadium turned from a nightmare of an interstate fixture to a comforting secondary home. Marvel Stadium might be writhing in jealousy, but the feel of the WA ground is much more similar to the ‘G than the confined and roofed Docklands structure.


So when Collingwood were drawn to play Geelong at the home of West Coast and Fremantle, I wasn’t too fazed. Something about the place offered warmth; a hint of acceptance in a ground that is usually packed to the rafters with hostility.


Playing another Victorian team certainly aided the Magpie cause. From the first bounce Collingwood looked settled due to the 22,000 strong crowd consisting of many black and white members. For a hub game, it seemed more like a home match. That’s one thing about Magpie fans – we’re everywhere, so we’re hard to kill off, no matter how much the other 17 clubs might want to.


Jordan De Goey was paid a mark just moments after fumbling the greasy Sherrin upon landing. He didn’t look back, and slotted the game’s first major off a beautiful set shot. De Goey may not be an admirable role model after his indecent assault charges (a factor I’m disappointed the AFL or Collingwood have barely addressed due to the inconsequence the issue seemingly holds in Australian society), but his recent poor run of form looked to have changed.


The Cats started the race a step after the gun, and it showed. The black and white jumpers merged into a smooth panther, traversing the wide oval and leaping on any Geelong player who even considered touching the ball. When in possession, the speed of their counter-attacks caused the heart to beat faster. It was like their claws were out, pouncing at every opportunity to slingshot forward and wreak havoc. On one occasion, a Phillips’ rushed kick inside defensive 50 should have been conveyed down the line, assuming the custom of modern AFL defensive tactics. But the left-footer took a chance, swung the Sherrin down the guts to a leading Mihocek. Upon taking a smart mark, he wheeled around and sliced through a dissecting pass that cut through Geelong and reached Hoskin-Elliott for a goal. It was exhilarating stuff – like a boxer defending a barrage of blows with dainty footwork before leaping into a cruel combo when the smallest of weaknesses were exposed.


But Geelong have experience on their side. In the opening stages it meant they looked too slow, yet the longer the quarter went for the more they touched the footy. The Cats were left without inspirational skipper Joel Selwood after another concerning hamstring injury, but Dangerfield filled the void. Winding back the clock to his Brownlow-winning form, Danger did his best around the ground to will his way through clinging tackles and slam the ball forward.


A quirky ruck contest allowed Hawkins free passage to slam the ball into the middle, where the returning Jordan Clark gleefully accepted a goal. The young speedster’s night would end in misery and pain, but he received some reward for the hard work he put in to return to the top level.


After quarter time, Chris Scott tried to stem Collingwood’s run from half-back. The result was an arm wrestle, constituting a midfield stoppage war that was likened to a tug-of-war contest broken up  by flashes of breakneck play when either team exposed a weakness. Halfway through the last quarter, Scott and Nathan Buckley may as well have busted out the gloves themselves.


If the physical side of the game appeared to be a contest of thrusts and counter-attacks, the mental aspect represented chess. Scott had seen his king sidelined. In this version of chess, the pieces had to play on without their greatest asset. Dangerfield resembled the all-conquering queen, while Gary Ablett Jnr tried to pass himself off as an inconspicuous knight.


Collingwood’s king was allowed to fade into the background. Taylor Adams bustled through stoppages, using his bulky frame to find space and deliver. Jaidyn Stephenson was reduced to a pawn for the second straight week, Buckley tossing him up the board early to find more action. Jamie Elliott, initially a pawn, earned the role of a rook after a second successive game providing run and grunt in the midfield.


Whenever Geelong’s minions worked their way methodically up the board, Buckley employed the services of his bishops. Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard had managed to fill the leaping void left by Jeremy Howe – the pair were in All-Australian form and dominated Geelong’s forward line. Whenever a high ball entered defensive 50, Moore had his name over it. When a ground ball was there to be won, or the Cats encroached too close to the king, Maynard would swoop in; his intent and bravery means whenever he goes for the footy he is the one putting in the biggest effort.


Treloar’s return to the centre continued to flourish – he amassed his usual 30+ touches, but this time he began to settle and use the footy. With Pendlebury (the Pies’ king, if you were wondering) smoothly gliding over the board, the black and white on-ball brigade became a multi-pronged attack that overran a Selwood-less Geelong.


Josh Daicos once again proved he is the best emerging wing/ half-forward on Collingwood’s list – his nous around goal is about 15% of his father’s, but in the case of the Daicos name 15% is more than acceptable. Isaac Quaynor has only played two games this season, but he is already a lock across half-back; his run and power in rebounding has changed the way Collingwood attack. Travis Varcoe lined up on Ablett numerous times and kept up with the aging master, only to bounce off him and become creative in attack.


Grundy is waiting in the sidelines, choosing to sit out this particular game within the game and instead chip in at valuable times. He easily won the ruck with minimal effort, and pulled out a party trick when a late tap to the industrious Crisp took Bruce’s breath away. It normally takes the number 33 and a dabble of magic to have that effect on the commentating doyen.


But the largest of plaudits go to the queens. De Goey singlehandedly got the Pies home when it mattered, booting three final quarter goals to take his total to five for the match. His on-ground efforts were superb, but as a Pies supporter I’m still disappointed by the news off it. Dangerfield tried to keep his team in it, but in the end master player Buckley got to Scott’s king and held them check mate. All on the familiar board at Optus Stadium – one that inspired a homely feeling of new importance. The next opponent Simpson awaits, looking to turn the rejuvenated black and white into WA’s primary public enemies.




GEELONG               1.1     1.3     3.5     5.5     (35)
2.2     4.3     5.7     8.9     (57)


Geelong: Clark, Guthrie, Rohan, Simpson, Tuohy
Collingwood: De Goey 5, Adams, Daicos, Hoskin-Elliott


Geelong: Dangerfield, Guthrie, Ablett, Menegola, Tuohy
Collingwood: De Goey, Maynard, Treloar, Moore, Adams, Pendlebury, Crisp




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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice write up Sean, was great to see a crowd there. And Geelong finally got their wish to play us west of the West Gate Bridge!
    Quaynor is a beauty, should be an automatic selection from now on.

  2. Sean – a very good summary of events. The Cats were off and never really got “on”.

    Have to disagree about the hype around De Goey. He was good, but was also lucky (first goal wasn’t a mark and neither was one of his snags in the last). Surely the Pies best player and the games best player was Pendlebury? He cut a swathe through the Cats midfield. Ably assisted by Adams. Why Scott didn’t at least try a hard shut down is beyond me. Perhaps he ran out of players? To my way of thinking De Goey got on the end of Pendlebury’s labour. Good luck to him I suppose.

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