No Pendlebury, no Treloar, no de Goey, no Moore… no worries?

Oh, but there were worries, and for a while there, Collingwood supporters may have been a little anxious. However, good teams find a way to win ugly, and against Adelaide, the Pies were able to capitalise on turnovers, make fewer mistakes and walk away with a hard-fought four points, beating the Crows by four goals on the road.

The 10.2 score line for the Pies does not reflect some of their poor kicking at goal, with both sides seeming to struggle with what would normally be standard set shots, but some errant kicking as they exited fifty saw Adelaide give Collingwood multiple chances to hit the scoreboard in the second half.

And the Pies took full advantage.

The loss sends the Crows to an 11th straight loss in 2020 and an almost certain wooden spoon. It has been 56 years since a team went winless in the V/AFL and Adelaide are zeroing in on a record they would rather have no part of. Where are they going wrong, and where did the Pies go right?

That’s what I’m here to look at. Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

 

THE GOOD

 

THE ADAMS FAMILY

Without his regular running mates in the middle, a lot was asked of Taylor Adams in this one, and in true workmanlike fashion, he knuckled down, worked hard and emerged as the most potent midfielder in the game.

Regardless of whether you wanted to or not, looking at the outs for the Pies was inevitable. You simply cannot have names like Pendlebury and Treloar missing from a line-up and have it tick over as though nothing is wrong.

Unless you have a bloke in there like Taylor Adams who seems to relish having the heat put on him.

His work at stoppages was fantastic, picking up ten clearances to be the equal game-high man. But unlike the clearances of the St Kilda guys last night, when Adams got his hands on the pill, he made sure it hurt the Crows. Adelaide were hard at it in the guts, but Adams was simply harder.

16 of his 27 disposals came in the contest and his defensive work was excellent as well, laying six tackles. People have speculated as to which player will step into the role of captain when Scott Pendlebury finally steps down in the coming years and I reckon Adams might be the logical choice – maybe even as early as next season. The way he applies himself both with and without the footy speaks of a player that says “follow me” via his actions alone.

After a leader like Pendles, you need someone with an enormous work ethic. I reckon Adams fits that bill perfectly.

 

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER UP FORWARD

There has been a lot of debate around the inclusion, or non-inclusion of Mason Cox in the Collingwood team this season, and even looking forward, it’s hard not to listen to the chatter about the upcoming off-season and what is in store not only for the league, but for individual players.

Should the Pies target Ben Brown? I wouldn’t, but hey… that’s probably why I don’t get the same salary as a list manager. Will Jordan de Goey re-sign with the Pies? Will Mason Cox have a home at Collingwood, or elsewhere?

All questions that are difficult to answer right now, but how they’re answered may depend quite a bit on how Darcy Cameron closes out 2020.

The big fella was a great presence up forward for the Pies in this one, working hard to provide an option both deep and with some searching leads up to the wings. What he has going for him is versatility – something that Cox lacks. He is not moved off the ball easily and can bully his way into a contest when required. With Cox, it seems at times that all is required is a little bodywork and he is rendered redundant in marking contests; this is not the case with Cameron.

He clunked five contested marks in this game and probably should have had four goals to alongside them (one of his shots has to be in contention for the worst kick at goal of the year!). He spelled Brodie Grundy in the ruck and worked hard to ensure he could contest the footy and bring it to ground when he couldn’t mark it.

In a game that was evenly balanced, his ability to take a string one-out grab gave the Pies a reliable avenue inside 50 all night.

 

LAIRD

The Crows have a couple of go-to performers that seem to wallpaper over a lot of cracks. Brodie Smith is one, but he created cracks of his own for a change, gifting a couple of goals with some errant kicking.

The other is Rory Laird, who was brilliant in 2017-18 as a half back and was moved into the guts to give Adelaide some leadership and hardness over the footy at stoppages. The move worked, with Laird collecting a game-high 34 possessions due to his tireless work around the footy and hard run on the outside.

It’s not often you see a player lead the game in both contested and uncontested touches but that’s what we saw from laird in this one. After 13 touches in the first quarter, laird was in the top three disposal winners for each of the next three quarters as well, compiling possibly his best game in a couple of seasons.

At 26 years old, Laird is a pillar on which the Crows can build upon as they bring in young talent to learn and develop. His knowledge, balance and presence around stoppages are something that cannot be taught, but if the young blokes at Adelaide like Chayce Jones, Ned McHenry and Lachie Scholl can emulate some of Laird’s work, the Crows will be on the fast track to getting better.

 

CRISP CLASS

In a game where kicking was… hmmm, not a highlight, the delivery of Jack Crisp stood out.

He has been one of the more unsung Magpies over the last couple of seasons as he began the transformation from being a pure half back to one that can pinch-hit in the midfield as well. And when you see him hitting targets inside 50 whilst everyone else is missing them, you can understand why Nathan Buckley is so keen to utilise his skills a little closer to goal.

Crisp appeared to enjoy running forward of centre in this one, with his work distributing the footy inside 50 resulting in two direct goal assists for the night. Whilst everyone else seemed to double grab at the footy and make fundamental errors with the ball, Crisp was the exception, moving like a man with the utmost confidence in his own abilities.

As 2020 has dragged on and the Pies’ list has been stretched, the value of Crisp to this team has increased exponentially. This evening the Pies added Darcy Moore to the list of outs that already included Jeremy Howe, but the combination of Crisp, Brayden Maynard and Jordan Roughead was able to hold the fort. They were well supported by John Noble and Jack Madgen as they welcomed Lynden Dunn back to the fold.

 

DUNN AND DUSTED

How great was it to see Lynden Dunn slot that goal when it seemed the Pies couldn’t buy a major?

Footy sometimes gets bogged down in negative stories, and truthfully, it shits me to tears. Allegations of sexual assault in the Richmond locker room, people being called racist names, player being attacked on social media by nuffies who can’t control themselves… this is the kind of stuff that is considered journalism in this day and age?

I’d much rather concentrate on some positives, and the return of Lynden Dunn was definitely one of those.

You could feel the momentum build after he received a 50 metre penalty that brought him within range, and when the ball sailed through for a goal, how could you not smile?

Dunn’s goal was not the only highlight – his mullet hairstyle easily vaults him to the number one slot in the worst hairstyles in the league standings. I am sure this will get a mention in our Mongrel Podcast this week (recording Thursday, just so you know). It is not often I see Mrs Mongrel speechless, but watching Dunn’s hair flop around as he celebrated his goal, I almost had to pick her jaw up off the floor.

“What is he doing?” she asked.

It’s a pretty bloody good question in regard to his hair, but in regard to footy… he was getting back in the swing of senior footy, and that is one of the reasons footy is great.

 

THE HIMMMELBERG

He looks to be a very different player to his brother at GWS, but Elliott Himmelberg showed a fair bit in this one, finally providing the Crows with a forward willing to throw himself into the contest and bring the ball to ground, or… heaven forbid, actually mark it!

Himmelberg took three contested grabs in this game and was close to a couple more as he attacked the footy in flight the way you’d expect a key forward to.

Whilst Darcy Fogarty crashed a pack or two (and Jordan Roughead’s cranium in one instance), Himmelberg looked dangerous all game. As he gets a bit stronger, I reckon we’ll see plenty more from him.

 

THE NOBLEMAN

I touched on him above when talking about Crisp, but the game of John Noble in defence deserves to be highlighted.

He has had a couple of good outings this season and really looks relaxed in the Collingwood back six these days. Accountable, yet creative, his run and carry from half back provided headaches for the Adelaide defence as he caught them off guard a couple of times. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? That a guy who plays direct footy actually catches defences completely off-guard?

I guess we’re a little too used to players chipping it sideways and to the boundary before attacking. Maybe there is something in the way Noble plays the game that others could learn a thing or two from.

 

THE BAD

 

THE ONE FOR ONE GAME OF TEX WALKER

Is this something I am unaware of? Is there some sort of law that requires Taylor Walker to immediately do something stupid as soon as he does something good?

Three times in this game we saw Tex do something that could be considered excellent, only to undo his good work within seconds. I’ll run them down for you.

Second Quarter – The Crows are exiting their defensive fifty and target Tex with the get out of jail kick. He obliges, taking one of the better marks he’s taken this season. He turns, and in his efforts to get the ball moving, immediately turns it over.

Second quarter again – After marking on the lead, Tex runs the arc and spears a ball 30 metres toward his attacking 50. Straight to the only Magpie in the vicinity. Another turnover.

Third quarter – Tex does some tough work at the coal face and whilst extracting the footy, sells some brilliant hand candy to two Collingwood players before turning and looking for an option. Within 15 seconds, he runs over and tackles an opponent without the footy whilst two Crows raffle who is going to gather the footy 45 metres out from goal. Turnover.

Then there was his inability to either mark or draw a free kick against Jack Madgen, who was stuck running with the flight of the footy and managed to make a clean spoil on the incoming ball from Elliott Himmelberg. Credit where it is due – it was a great spoil by Madgen, but all Walker had to do was prop and draw contact and he would have gained a free kick 20 metres out. Instead, another chance went begging.

He is so close to getting it together, but in his haste to make something happen, the only things he’s doing are making bad things happen. I don’t know what to do with him. If you were Matty Nicks, what would you do?

 

 

THE UGLY

 

THE GIFTS

The Crows had the Pies on toast early in this game. The second quarter had a different feel to it, but in the first, you could feel an Adelaide team playing on emotion. That works… for a while.

There comes a time when you have to settle, be a little more clinical and think about what you’re doing. Controlling the footy can be as good gold when an opponent starts to smell a little bit of blood.

The first three Collingwood goals came directly from poor Adelaide decisions with the footy. Daicos marked a shallow defensive 50 exit and goaled from 45. We covered the Dunn goal from a 50 metre penalty above, but the third goal, a gift from Brodie Smith to Jaidyn Stephenson, brought a player into the game who hasn’t been able to win his own footy after quarter time all season.

Smith is usually a beautiful kick, but his skill and sense deserted him as his kick across half back landed right with the former Rising Star winner at 45. He went back and slotted it to bring the Pies right back into it.

Three goals – all from turnovers.

Soon after that a dreadful Shane McAdam miss at one end saw the Pies go all the way and kick their fourth courtesy of Ruscoe out the back.

Stephenson would later claim a second goal as his direct opponent, Fischer McAsey gave up a handball under pressure straight to him in front of goal.

It was that sort of night for the Crows – brought undone on occasion by the Collingwood pressure, but brought undone more by their own fundamental errors.

 

THE RECORD

Now at 0-11, things are becoming dire for Adelaide. This is the kind of thing that permeates a group and even the supporters, and it places increased pressure on each and every game they contest.

Next week, they have the Dogs and they won’t even have Adelaide Oval to make them feel as though they have support.

The Crows have never bottomed out and finished last. They will this season, but to finish winless… they’re not that bad. They’re not 1996 Fitzroy. They need just one outing where they have clean hands, make good decisions and hit some targets.

If they do that, they don’t finish winless in 2020. If they don’t… well, this is probably going to be the busiest off-season at the club in a while, anyway. And that’s saying something after last season.

 

SOME QUESTIONS

 

IS BRODIE GRUNDY ON CRUISE CONTROL THIS SEASON?

I’m not sure if it is just me, but since Round One where he molested Tim English in one of the most dominant halves of footy we’ve seen from a ruckman, I don’t think the Pies big man has got anywhere near his best.

Breaking even with Reilly O’Brien after eking out a win over Cal Sinclair last week is not the sort of form we’ve come to expect from Grundy. It is certainly not a patch on his incredible 2019 efforts.

If Max Gawn comes up, we get to see a renewal of the (friendly?) rivalry and should go a long way to telling us whether Grundy is right, or if something is up.

 

DID ADELAIDE GET THE SHORT END OF THE UMPIRING STICK?

You know what… I know it’ll mostly be Collingwood supporters reading this because, you know, they won, and they’re more likely to want to have a read about their team, but yes – the Crows did get a raw deal from the umpires.

To me, it was just at points where the Crows were ready to stream forward that the ball was called back and a free kick went the way of Collingwood. I’m not saying it was the difference – far from it, but it did strike me as a bit lop-sided.

I’m looking up the free kick count now – yep, 20-12 in favour of the Pies. Again, it wasn’t the difference, but I felt as those the Pies got the majority of the iffy decisions in this one.

 

WHAT IS DARCY FOGARTY DOING?

Great question… and it pains me to ask it.

I don’t think I saw him sprint in this game and as it stands right now, I am not sure he and Tex can play in the same team. Look, I loved when he crashed the pack and took everyone down with him, but late in the game, as Tyson Stengle handed off to Elliot Himmelberg for the Crows’ last goal, have a look at Fog… he cannot get out of a trot even with the ball metres away. I wanted him to lay a shepherd on Noble, or Crisp, but he was just… there.

He’s been a favourite of mine since he started a couple of seasons back, but either he is too unfit to put in for four quarters, or unwilling.

 

HOW DID SIDEY GO?

You know, I don’t think he did enough. Looking at the list, this is the sort of game I expected him to tear apart. No defensive attention, really – Keays hung out with him here and there but it was not a hard tag by any stretch, and Sidebottom seemed content to run around at three quarter pace all night.

Maybe it was just that kind of game? Maybe his work was worth more than I am giving credit for? I just felt that the Pies had plenty better on the night. I did like his decision to hack it forward off the deck late in the game to provide Josh Thomas with his only goal of the evening. That was nice.

 

OTHER BITS

 

Looking at Fischer McAsey in defence, he reminds me a bit of Charlie Ballard at Gold Coast.

Yes, he is out of his depth right now, as Ballard was early last season, but the Suns stuck with him, and as he learnt and got the help of some big guys around him, he improved out of sight. I reckon McAsey is more composed with Talia back there.

Give him time.

Matt Crouch – 26 disposals, 181 metres gained. You know what that means? Back and to the left… his game is like a Kennedy assassination. Go to the last play of the third quarter. The Pies have just scored and O’Brien wins the tap to Crouch.

Now he knows there is under ten seconds left here. The runners have been out as a goal was just scored. Instead of throwing it on his boot and getting distance and possibly the chance to score, he tries for a dinky little handball. It is sharked by Sier, who does what Crouch should have done and goes long. It is marked by Darcy Cameron who goals after the siren. Game over, right there.

Kick the damn ball with ten seconds left, Matt… kick it!

Speaking of Sier – a pretty serviceable game from him. Only 15 touches, but five of them were clearances. I actually didn’t think we’d see both him and Rupert Wills in the same team this season, but here we are. Both guys bring a heap of toughness to the Collingwood midfield, but ultimately, I reckon you choose one or the other as the Pies bring soldiers back this season.

As good as Sier is, and could be, I prefer the defensive capabilities for Wills. With so many ball winners in the Magpie midfield, you need someone who can do a job and Wills is that bloke.

Jaidyn Stephenson watch – recipient of a couple of nice gifts from Crows players, but with four touches… just hanging onto his place. Had a couple of readers let me know he had glandular fever earlier this year. Tough to get back after that – it really knocks you around.  It’s not as though Stephenson had a lot of weight he could afford to lose, but it just drops off you when you’re suffering from that.

I could use a mild dose right about now, myself…

Maybe the Crows should recruit some more Maccas to corner the Scottish support? McAsey, McAdam, Mackay, McPherson, McHenry. The McCrows? Sponsorship would be an easy one… I’m lovin’ it.

Overall, I guess this was just a good team down on soldiers against what is just a bad team. The Pies are able to carry a few who would normally be nowhere near their best 22, whilst the Crows… that is something they cannot even entertain, particularly with the early loss of a player like Tom Lynch. Ahhh, thought I forgot about that one, didn’t ya?

 

That’ll do me. The Pies get the Dees  next week and it SHOULD be a good one. The Crows gets the Dogs and I’m really praying for them to get one win this season. Have they played my Hawks? It’ll probably be against them if they haven’t.

 

 

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