Well, we took footy out of the slippery Queensland conditions and headed to the beautiful dry weather of Western Australia.
Of course, it rained and gave us another low-scoring game, but what it really provided was a test for Collingwood and Geelong. Who could handle the pressure? Who could increase the pressure? And who would emerge victorious?
I watched this game with the virtual company of three Geelong supporters, and whilst a couple of them lamented the lopsided free kick count, I would in no way attribute Collingwood’s win to something like that. There was some things that were way more important than the whistle.
It was their pressure. It was their maniacal attack on the footy in dispute. And it was the way they refused to allow their opponents to get a clean run with the footy.
Was it a game full of highlights? No… it had a few, including the big grab from Will Hoskin-Elliott and the last quarter blast from the powerhouse named de Goey, but this win was testament to a club willing to work it’s arse off.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
THE CRISP BALL USE
It would be easy to lead off with the bloke that will be on the back of the papers tomorrow, but I want to concentrate on one who may be a little less lauded.
Jack Crisp played a pearler in this game.
Matched up on the dangerous Gryan Miers at points and stationed primarilyat half back, Crisp played the kind of defensive game that was a hybrid of the Jeremy Howe role and the Brayden Maynard role (which was funny, since Maynard was playing, and playing bloody well again!).
Crisp ran off at every opportunity, but on a night when ball use wasn’t one of the highlights, it was a definite highlight of his.
Crips had 20 touches for the evening, with just one failing to be ranked as effective. With a wet and slippery footy, that is quite amazing.
And it wasn’t just the dinky little sideways kicks that aided that percentage either. With 466 metres gained for the Pies, he was one of the few to average over 20 metres per disposal.
Many have speculated as to how the Pies compensate for the ridiculous talent of Jeremy Howe, but with the combination of Darcy Moore, Brayden Maynard, Jordan Roughead and Jack Crisp, they have all aspects of Howe’s game other than one covered off.
No one takes a speccy like Howe, but the run and carry, the great ball use and the ability to lock down a dangerous forward are all areas the Pies can cover. And tonight, Crisp covered the ball use component with the kind of skill rarely seen in a game like this.
Even before his two late goals, there was something about Jordan de Goey on this night. After a couple of weeks that the Bruce McAvaney described as a “hiccup” (pretty serious case of the hiccups and Bruce later apologised), de Goey played with the kind of freedom we haven’t really seen since his 2018 season.
He looked fresh, he looked at ease, and he looked bloody good.
The Collingwood powerhouse had a couple of moments in this one where he almost did the incredible and you could sense he was on the cusp of finding some of his best form. He almost dragged down a ripping mark in the third quarter, only to see it bobble out on the second bite.
But that was just a tease.
With the game in the balance, it was the skill and power of Jordan de Goey that came to the fore. A contested mark inside 50 on the brilliant Jack Crisp clearance put the result beyond doubt, but minutes later, some perfect ball control and a turning circle like Kevin Bartlett on Stan Magro set up his fifth goal.
I have been a little sceptical of the rapturous adulation de Goey has received from the press in Melbourne over the past year. Press in terms of his footy, anyway. I’ve felt they have been a little premature in anointing him a superstar of the game, but you know what – I am happy to eat a little bit of humble pie tonight. He played like a superstar in this game.
With 17 touches and five goals in a game that saw his team kick just eight, there can be no mistaking just how good Jordan de Goey was.
TAKING THE PRESSURE AND INCREASING THE PRESSURE
I had to point this out to my fellow Mongrel writers who are Cats fans – Collingwood beat them in the clinches in this game. Whilst they may have looked to the free kick count as a reason for the Cats trailing, it was the unrelenting pressure of the Magpies when the ball was in dispute that swung the momentum Collingwood’s way.
In a game that was a little greasy, clean possession was never going to be an option. It was the team that applied the most pressure and ate the pressure served up to them that would prevail in this contest.
And that team was Collingwood.
The Pies simply forced Geelong to hack away at the footy whilst somehow finding space to get clean kicks inside 50 away, themselves.
One 30 second passage in the second quarter saw Geelong up the ante and the Pies respond with a pressure even more ferocious than Geelong could muster. Dangerfield was throwing himself in hard and nailed Taylor Adams in a tackle, Guthrie was like a rabid dog after the footy, Ablett was involved and the Geelong big guns looked like they were lifting.
But the Pies absorbed it.
The Pies rallied.
And the Pies applied pressure of their own.
It was the game in a nutshell. Anything the Cats could do, the Pies did better. It was Crisp, Varcoe, Elliott and a ripping Jordan de Goey tackle on Menegola that swung the momentum Collingwood’s way. Mihocek crashed the pack, Cal Brown roved and handed to Josh Daicos and the young wingman slotted a goal.
Right then – right there… that play gives you all the answers you want to know about this game.
It starts with 11.10 remaining in the second quarter and ends with the Daicos goal. Geelong were throwing everything they had at Collingwood and the Pies stood up.
It’s what good teams do.
He didn’t quite use the holy hand grenade of Antioch, but the repeated efforts of Brayden Maynard in defence were an absolute blessing for the Magpies, and for anyone watching.
Over the past month, Maynard has had some huge jobs, and going back to the 2019 finals, he has history with Gary Ablett as well.
Whilst Maynard didn’t give Ablett the kind of attention he gave him in that finals contest, the pressure and relentlessness at the contest he displayed in this game should give a pretty clear indication as to why most people believe he will earn his first All-Australian blazer this year.
Whilst his numbers were down a little on what we’ve come to expect recently, his influence on the contest was not. Maynard is a workhorse that has developed into a reliable, accountable and desperate defender. The way he is playing, he doesn’t need a holy hand grenade to wreak havoc back there – his presence and attack on the footy does enough damage.
THE GRUNDY SERVICE
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but watching the ruck contest intently in the first half, I felt Darcy Fort wasn’t being slaughtered around the ground like I thought he might.
He was competitive and may have even gone close to matching his heralded opponent around the ground in the first quarter. Not so much in the hit outs, but in his follow up work.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Matching Brodie Grundy for one quarter is one thing – matching him over four quarters is another thing entirely.
Grundy dropped the hammer in the second half, recording a 23-10 hit out advantage and nine disposals to just three from Fort. Some of his tap work from the night was, as Bruce would say, delicious. This was encapsulated by his perfect tap to the running Jack Crisp in the last quarter. The Pies’ defender went on to feed Jordan de Goey for a goal at a point where the Cats may have still held out a faint hope.
A couple of weeks ago we saw Nic Naitanui dismantle the undermanned Sydney “rucks” but what Grundy did this evening, particularly in the first quarter in terms of ruck taps, was every bit as impressive. 46 hit outs, 17 touches and six disposals inside 50 indicate that Grundy punished Fort whenever the chance arose.
It was another in the long line of excellent ruck performances from the big man, and with Todd Goldstein the front runner for the AA ruck spot at the moment, Grundy gave a timely reminder that he is still well and truly in the race.
How can you not like what Darcy Moore is doing this season?
Last week he was controlling the contest from half back against the Hawks, and tonight he was offered up the equivalent of a human sacrifice, in Esava Ratugolea.
At 21, Ratugolea is still learning his craft. No… he is starting to learn his craft – he has a very long way to go. Moore is entering his prime and is as confident in his ability to impact a contest as any defender in the game. His closing speed is incredible, his defensive reach is beyond compare in the game right now, and his willingness to back himself in a contest speaks of a man who knows exactly what he is capable of and feels that he will come out on top of any contest he takes part in.
We voted him into our Mongrel All-Australian team this week, and really, we would have been foolish not to. In one of the stingiest defences in the game, he is the key component.
WHAT THE PIES WERE MISSING
Only one player has three 30+ disposal games in the AFL this season.
That man is Adam Treloar, and given he has only played three games it gives you a definite indication that this man is primed for greatness in 2020.
Whilst Pendlebury brings the class and Taylor Adams brings the grunt, Treloar brings a bit of everything. For too long, the knock on him has been that he wastes the footy – that’s now a weak argument. It is an viewpoint based on the player he was in around 2015 when he would run almost too fast for his own good and throw the ball on his boot.
If anyone was guilty of that this evening, it would be the Brownlow Medallist on the other team – not Treloar.
He finished with a monstrous 18 contested touches amongst his 34 disposals, 11 clearances and six tackles. The energy and power-running he adds to this Collingwood midfield simply cannot be replicated and they look like a more cohesive on-ball bunch with him in the mix.
There will be others that may pinch votes from him in the wash up, but the importance of Treloar to this Collingwood team has never been more important than it is right now. And I reckon he may sense it, too.
BLICAVS ON MIHOCEK
Credit where it’s due – Mark Blicavs owned his contest against a man who slotted into The Mongrel Team’s Rolling All-Australian team this week.
Mihocek is a workhorse, and you will never see him fail due to lack of effort. Some players drop their heads when things don’t go their way, but Mihocek is not one of them – it takes diligence and attention to the task at hand to shut him down for the entire game.
But that’s what Mark Blicavs was able to do in this game.
You won’t see Blicavs racking up a big supercoach score, or featuring in a lot of highlight plays from this game, but his efforts in contests from start to finish were excellent and you have to wonder is Chris Scott had his time over again, would he plonk his dual Best and Fairest on Jordan de Goey and ask him to do the big job?
As it stands, Blicavs can hold his head high after this game. Against a high quality opponent, he definitely took the chocolates.
There is a bloke a couple of people floated as a possible AA contender at this point of the season, but he certainly did himself no favours with his performance this evening.
With just four touches in the second half, the disappearing act of Brandan Parfitt is concerning.
Here is a player that has thrived on the contact this season and his tackle numbers indicate that he is a player that should excel in tight. However, he was a non-entity in this game after half time, and may have been a little indicative of Geelong in general.
There were several Cats that were unable to impact the contest in the second half. Whether they just didn’t handle the conditions well (Gryan Miers) or just don’t seem up to it (Esava Ratugolea), with two players down (Selwood and Clark) Geelong were not in a position where they could afford to carry anyone (Dahlhaus), but that’s what they were forced to try and do.
Dangerfield worked his backside off, as did Cam Guthrie, but when a player like Parfitt, who really should have been the bloke to elevate his game in the absence of Joel Selwood, doesn’t show up it just increases the pressure on those who did.
Add in the “he means well” kind of play from Jack Steven, and you have a recipe for a loss.
I should probably explain that last comment.
Jack Steven is starting to look better. It’s a process, but if he can get back to anywhere near the 2018 version of himself, the Cats have got a bargain. In the meantime, he reminds me of the way my auntie would speak about my grandmother when she’d try to help with something and cock it up.
“She means well,” she’d say, as if that fixed the things she’d done wrong. That’s how I feel about Steven at the moment. Obviously still a bit too heavy, he is trying and he means well…
He’s just not all that much help at the moment.
THE FREE KICK COUNT
Okay Cats fans, let’s acknowledge it. You did get a little shafted here and there, but I don’t think this is an out by any stretch.
The count ended up 22-10 in favour of the Pies and there were a few that I thought were quite obviously missed (Maynard chopping Gary Rohan’s arms was one I thought should have been paid) but for the most part, the free kicks to the Pies came from putting their head over the footy and being first to it.
The free kick count may have been lopsided, but so was the level of intensity. Both were in favour of the Pies.
A BIG COUPLE OF INJURIES
You all know I am a Joel Selwood fan, and my heart sunk when he limped off the ground in the first quarter. I have loved seeing him have a bit of a late career renaissance this season with a move back into the middle, and to have him missing at such an early stage in the game left a gaping hole in the Geelong midfield.
Adding to the concern is the shoulder injury to Jordan Clark in his first game back after the break. Diving for a footy with Brodie Grundy, Clark extended his arm and injured his shoulder. The picture of him cradling his arm as he made his way off the ground was extremely disheartening.
WHO ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES AT COLLINWOOD
I kind of touched on a couple in the good section, but Jordan Roughead gets big jobs every single week and makes good on them.
This week he had the name of Tom Hawkins circled and quietly, yet effectively went about the job of holding him goalless. The Collingwood defence is water tight, but Roughead is one who never, ever gets any recognition for his superb man-on-man defence. He had one fumble this evening that people will probably remember – it led to a goal, but they should probably take a moment to reflect on his overall performance. He is unspectacular and underrated.
Josh Daicos would be the other one. He is really starting to look like a player. Still flashes in and out, but like Joe Ganino gaining confidence in the Melbourne parklands, his flashes are getting longer as he gets more exposure.
WHAT HAPPENED TO SAM MENEGOLA TONIGHT?
He has had a three week stretch on the wing where he’s had a dream run, but that ended tonight.
Still returning respectable stats of 19 touches and three clearances, he was unable to find the open spaces he has become accustomed to over the last month. As a result, many of his touches came under pressure and took away his number one weapon – that booming kick that can get over the back of defensive set ups.
WHO CAN THE CATS BRING IN?
If Mitch Duncan is fit, he walks back in as the replacement for Selwood, but with Tom Stewart still a few weeks away, who gets the nod to replace Jordan Clark?
There are people much better qualified to answer this than me, but I’d like to know – has Charlie Constable fallen off a cliff or something? I thought his efforts last season were more than acceptable. 21 touches per game over a seven game stretch… has he pissed someone off? I can’t find his name on the injured list – is he unhappy in Geelong?
Maybe Nakia Cockatoo can come in and add something more than just another injury waiting to happen in a team that is a little banged up.
Or how about Josh Jenkins? It’ll save him having to incur fines whilst sitting at home.
WHAT IS THE BEST POSITION FOR CHRIS MAYNE?
I like Mayne on the wing. He spent a bit of time there tonight and he bring something to the table that not many outside runners possess – intensity in the contest.
Mayne led the game in tackles with nine for the evening, and the way he plays accountable footy in one of the most unaccountable roles disrupts the opposition more than you’ll hear about.
There are no easy touches with Mayne around and with wingmen quite adept at picking up easy touches, the presence of Mayne in the role is a real circuit breaker for the Pies.
Tom Hawkins is the best ruck-forward in the game and I am so surprised that teams do not see it coming when he plucks the ball out of the stoppage. He does it every single week.
Speaking of rucks, is Esava Ratugolea the only player this year to have no opponent and still not be able to win a ruck contest? I really do wonder whether he is a footballer, or an athlete trying to be a footballer. It works for some – Blicavs. Can it work for him?
This is the fifth game of the season that Collingwood’s opponents have been unable to hit 40 points. Their defence is astonishingly good.
I love the pressure of Gary Rohan, and was hoping for a couple more Rohan v Moore one-out contests. How amazing was that closing speed as he chased after the loose ball against Moore. Too fast for his own good, but you simply cannot doubt his endeavour.
That’ll do me – it’s almost 1am. The Cats get a nice long break now before taking on the Dockers. This’ll be very interesting as you’d expect Fyfe to be back for this clash.
The Pies get the Eagles in what should be an absolute cracker. My hand is going up to cover that one immediately. Grundy v Naitanui worth the price of admission, or Foxtel.
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