Before I get this review underway, I just wanted to touch on the current situation surrounding the departure of Nathan Buckley from Collingwood.

Over the next 24-48 hours, you are likely to view, or read a number of media pieces about Buckley and how great he was, his legacy, what he means to Collingwood and so on. Please keep in mind that many of the people writing these pieces, and many of the people with the forum to sing his praises are the exact same people who have been potting him for the last 12 months, salivating at the prospect of a story in the making should he be fired, or leave Collingwood.

Guys, when you’re reading these pieces by the usual suspects who could not give a rat’s ass about the person, keep in mind that it is their job to barrack for the story. If there was a close game that resulted in pressure being placed on a coach, or player, that’s the result they support, because that’s what sells papers, gets people to tune into their shows, and generates clicks for their sites.

Gotta keep advertisers happy!

I’m not naming names here – I am sure you all know who the people in question are – but within an hour of Buckley’s last game of his Collingwood coaching career, we had several experts singing his praises and speaking about what an excellent coach he’s been.

The same people who asked the pointed questions about how long Buckley had left, whether or not Collingwood made a mistake by extending him, whether the departure of Eddie McGuire was the death-knell for Bucks, and whether he’d lost the players.

Yep, this is the AFL media as we’ve been forced to accept. They are all for kicking a bloke when he’s down, only to help him up once he has been beaten to a pulp.

Make no mistake – Nathan Buckley has been beaten to a pulp over the last 12 months by the media, and I am sure many of them will sit back, sip at a drink tonight and concentrate on the next big story, because what we’ve seen over the past week has helped them justify their jobs.

It’s one of the reasons I started this site – I hate that type of reporting. I hate the flip-flopping and the “I’m in the business of reporting facts” statements when really, it is all wild speculation aimed at creating a feeding frenzy. Hopefully, over the journey, we can provide something different.

I don’t know Bucks – met him once when he signed some stuff for my daughters at Highpoint Shopping Centre in the early 2000s, but have never spoken to him. He may be the most wonderful man in the world, or he may not, but I hope he is a man with a good memory, because these bottom feeders who concoct the story, feed it, and create issues for him, only to lament his departure would have to just about make you sick.

Anyway, now we can get on with the review.

 

The Dees came into their biggest annual home and away fixture looking like a team that needed the bye. The Pies, on the other hand, received a simultaneous shot in the arm and kick in the pants when their coach, Nathan Buckley, announced this would be his last game coaching his beloved Pies.

As soon as that announcement was made, this game got a whole lot more dangerous for the Dees. The Pies would be ready to take it up to the competition leaders, and heading into the bye, there was always the chance that Melbourne may have been ready for a week off just a few days early.

The Pies came out hard, with Jordan de Goey playing in the guts, and captain, Scott Pendlebury standing next to Clayton Oliver at the first bounce.

It was a significant move from Pendles, as it sent the signal to his team that he was going to be taking responsibility for the red-hot Demon, and when your captain makes a statement like that, he implores you to follow.

The Pies put together a full four quarters of good defensive pressure and were able to generate plenty of run whilst stifling the normally-potent Demon running brigade.

In the end, it was Nathan Buckley, all smiles, hugs and handshakes, walking off the ground with what was his team applauding his exit, and the Dees wandered off to take a week off that appears quite badly needed.

Let’s jump into our Mongrel Review

 

A bit of a departure from my normal Good, Bad and Ugly style for this one… been a bit under the weather, you see, so I’m needing to change things up to keep myself on my toes. Let’s jump in.

 

IS JORDAN DE GOEY’S FUTURE IN THE MIDFIELD?

I’d like to say yes, but he does really need to work on the defensive side of his game as well as just picking up a ton of the footy.

Everyone can see how potent he is in the guts, drawing a (surprisingly loose) tagging role from James Harmes after half time, but in collecting 32 touches and ten score involvements (including three first-half goal assists), de Goey also allowed his opponent free rein.

I guess the question for Pies fans is; are you okay with him being lax defensively if it means he has that sort of offensive impact? He played for a while on Clayton Oliver at stoppages, and when Oliver snapped a goal, it was largely due to de Goey not putting a body on him at a stoppage. Whilst others ran to compete at the next contest, you could see them trotting past de Goey as he broke into a walk through the middle. I don’t think the defensive side of the game comes naturally to him, and that can be dangerous when you have an opponent that knows how to exploit it.

What he did display were exceptionally clean hands in traffic – Alan Jeans would have called him a good driver in heavy traffic. I know he has copped the unfair “Dusty-lite” comparison at times this season, but with an improved defensive aspect to his game, de Goey has the potential to develop into the player Christian Petracca has been for the last year, and that player is one that pushed forward hard, but also works back defensively to help out his back six.

The last part is the only weakness in de Goey’s game, currently. Get that right, and he could very well be the midfield to elevate the team to the next level over the next couple of seasons.

 

HOW GOOD CAN ISAAC QUAYNOR BE?

Ask Kysaiah Pickett, I guess?

Quaynor was far too intelligent, just as athletic and simply worked harder than Pickett both in and around the contests in this one.

It appeared as though the only times Kosi looked like getting involved was when Quaynor hit the bench and John Noble filled in on him. When Quaynor had the job, Pickett was made redundant.

So, how good can Quaynor be?

There are a lot of teams out there who would love a player that can do what he does. Sometimes you get these very athletic players and their skills do not match that level of athleticism, or their decision-making lets them down. Quaynor lets no one down on any front.

He attacks the contest hard, knowing when to spoil and when to take the intercept mark, and his ability to act as a release player whilst still staying within striking distance of his direct opponent, should anything go awry, was brilliant.

He gave Pickett a real touch up in this game, and you’d hope that Kosi is the sort of player that will take this on board, go away and improve on his game, because going by this result, Quaynor will come into their next meeting full of confidence.

 

ANYONE SEE WHERE BAYLEY FRITSCH WENT?

I reckon you can find him in Brayden Maynard’s back pocket.

Fritsch started the game well, presenting on a couple of occasions and looked as though he may have been a key to the Demon forward line, but Brayden Maynard had other ideas.

Fritsch looked like a man that was completely ready for a rest, contributing just four touches after quarter time, and completely failing to trouble Maynard as he played the role of springboard from the Magpie defence.

I really don’t enjoy potting blokes, but Fritsch looked lazy in the second half. His chasing was abysmal, and his inability to win his own footy was non-existent. He has been a real spark for this Melbourne team thus far in 2021, but his second half return of one disposal and two tackles makes for pretty horrid reading if you’re a Dees supporter.

Maynard, meanwhile, ran off him to do as he pleased, collecting 32 touches, 13 marks and nine intercepts. He also notched 661 metres gained at 91% efficiency, which means he was finding targets down the ground, as opposed to those pissy little sideways chips that bump up the stats so often.

Maynard has consistently taken big jobs for the Pies over the last few years and save for a couple of clear losses (I remember one loss to Toby Greene where he actually applauded his opponent), has more than held his own. Mrs Mongrel sometimes thinks that Maynard looks like Pendlebury’s slow cousin, but I prefer she keeps those thoughts to her AFL fan fiction that she may, or may not write one day.

In the end, Maynard was master of his domain, and in a Collingwood back six that were solid all game, he was one of the stars.

 

IS IT TIME THE DEES PULLED THE PIN ON SAM WEIDEMAN?

I’ve been pretty patient, and have looked for the positives in Weed this season. He has had a couple of games where he has almost clunked marks and looked like he was almost there in terms of putting everything together.

And then this week… he was soundly beaten.

He still made some nice spoils to bring the ball to ground, and one of his tackles set up a goal for Bayley Fritsch, but for the large part, he was swallowed up and spat out by a Collingwood defence that gave him no room to move.

Matched up on the combination of Darcy Moore and Jordan Roughead, you had to feel for Weed – he was playing on two of the best in the business, but that’s what you’re in the team for, and that’s why Melbourne are paying you – to hold your own, or even beat them. In playing a pretty passive role for the team, he allowed Moore a clear run at aerial contests, where the Pies’ AA defender notched 13 spoils and eight intercepts. Not bad – 21 contests killed or controlled for Moore.

Between him and Tom McDonald, the Dees forwards hardly fired a shot.

Weideman returned four touches for the game, bringing his average over the last four games to just 6.7 disposals, 0.7 goals, and 2,7 marks per game. Spin that any way you like, but it is just not good enough.

Melbourne have been extremely patient with him this season, and in general, but their patience is likely running out. You can carry blokes who are not performing while you’re winning, but a loss like this completely exposes their weakness in the overall structure. It is like the old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Right now, Sam is feeling the strain of being that link.

Weed has done his chances of holding a spot over Ben Brown no good at all. The Dees are a win-now team, and Weed is giving them little chance of doing that with his output.

Health permitting, I reckon Ben Brown gets another run in the seniors following the bye.

 

CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Another week, another stellar display from the old fella.

We can call him that now, right? He is one of the elder statesmen of the league, and given some people were writing him off in 2018 (a big hello to Mike Sheahan), Pendles continues to prove that he not only belongs at this level, but is still one of the best mids in the game.

With copious amounts of class and precision, he still has the ability to crack in and win the hard footy. Pendles is the only man this round to collect 20+ contested touches, and the way he controlled other aspects of this contest, such as, hmmm…. umpiring decisions, was quite… spooky.

Moments before having an out on the full call somehow reversed to end up in a throw in, Pendles put some hard work in with the field umpire, when James Harmes was not pinged for handballing the footy out of bounds. Pendles was quite animated (for him) about Harmes’ intentions, and I have to wonder whether the pressure he was putting the umps under had any bearing on their next decision, which effectively took the ball away from the Dees and set up a stoppage?

In the end, it was another trophy added to the burgeoning case of Scott Pendlebury, and a well-deserved one…

… though I would have probably picked Quaynor or Maynard. Just sayin’.

 

HOW’D PETRACCA GO?

Good, without being dominant.

Really could have dished the handball to Tom McDonald on the goal he kicked, but his hands down low are just about the best in the business at the moment. One grab and ready to dish off immediately, he makes those around him a lot better.

I guess it is just a pity that those around him were well down on the night – his presence elevated some to the acceptable level, but not enough. Did all he could to bring others into the game, but even he couldn’t conjure much in terms of magic to inspire his team.

 

DANGEROUS TACKLES?

This is getting a little ridiculous, now.

Brayden Maynard’s tackle on Jayden Hunt was textbook. It was a perfect tackle that took his opponent to the ground and did not at any stage bring his head in contact with the ground.

Yet as the whistle blew and the free kick was awarded to Hunt, long time AFL fans must have been sitting back, wondering what game they were watching.

Seriously, the umpires are jumping at shadows, now. Anything that looks remotely like a tackle that may hurt an opponent is being punished instead of rewarded.

Guys, I simply cannot stand the way we are allowing the sport to be legislated more and more towards being a non-contact sport. We’re obviously miles away from it, but the way things are going, players will be running around with little flags hanging out of their shorts in the next ten years, and that’ll be it for tackling.

The Crisp tackle on Oliver may have been a little worse, and I can even understand how the umpire felt compelled to call that one, but I think they’re getting too many of these wrong in the name of safety, and it could have a lasting impact on the physical aspect of the game.

 

BIG MAX

No, not that one… the other one.

How often does Max Gawn get beaten in ruck duels? Not often, right? He usually gives his mids silver service, allowing Oliver, Petracca and company to rack up big clearance numbers.

Max Lynch has less than a handful of games under his belt, but there he was, going toe-to-toe with Gawn at stoppages, and actually nullifying the 4x All-Australian ruckman in the air.

Gawn would find other ways to contribute – his contested marking was once again a genuine highlight of the game, but I reckon he had things taken up to him a little more than he would have been comfortable with in this one.

 

ATTACKING THE BODY

You could tell that someone had got in the ears of the Magpies midfielders in the lead up to this game – don’t let Clayton Oliver step around you!

Oh, he still tried, but almost every time, the Pies midfield was prepared, and we saw either Oliver dragged down in a tackle as a result, or firing out a handball to nobody in particular. Caleb Poulter wouldn’t  allow him to slip through the net, nor would Pendlebury or Jack Crisp.

Every time Clarrie tried to step through an oncoming tackle, the Collingwood player would just watch his hips, and attack his torso. As a result, Oliver had one of his least effective games of the season.

Oliver would have 23 touches, but the Dees were whacked at the clearances without his creativity on display, losing 34-24 on the game. I reckon a few teams will be watching how the Magpies attacked Oliver in the contest and he may get a little more heat his way over the next month or so of footy.

 

WHAT CAN THESE TEAMS LOOK FORWARD TO?

Well, a week off for the Dees, which is coming right at the perfect time.

No, actually this week would have been the perfect time, really. They just were not up for the fight, and the Pies sensed it.

Collingwood get a week off as well as they have a chance to get back home and regroup under interim coach, Rob Harvey. Their form has not been too bad – ugly as hell at times, but not atrocious, and you can see them slowly starting to put it together this season.

 

WHO NEEDS TO LIFT?

I touched on Weideman above, but I reckon he may have just cost himself a place in the team. Tom McDonald was down – probably could have got a handball from Petracca for a goal, but the Moore/Roughead combination had his number all game.

For the Pies, Caleb Poulter had a couple of minutes he’d like to forget in the third quarter, missing two shots at goal and grubbing a kick along the ground that went about four metres. Good time for a week off for him. And Josh Daicos is really not firing on any cylinders at the moment. He looks a bit lost in this Magpie team – they should probably not have moved him from his wing position early in the season. It’ll be interesting to see whether Harvey slots him back into that role immediately.

 

And that’ll do it for me. Once again, to our members, thank you so much for your ongoing support. Without you, there is no us, so I hope you know how much your commitment to us means. It keeps the site alive. It really does. Cheers – HB.

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